Call of the Wild: A Druid Handbook

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Call of the Wild:  A Druid Handbook




Purpose of this Guide


Yes, I already have a Druid guide, Master of Forms, Storms, and Swarms.  That guide is being discontinued, and once I migrate all of the material from it I'll be updating this guide exclusively.  The main reason that I'm abandoning the old guide is because I foolishly didn't reserve enough posts.  In pondering how I would incorporate the new Sentinel build into the existing space of that guide, I managed to screw up one of the posts so that when I edit it brings up a whole mess of really weird code, but none of the buttons (Submit Post, etc.) are present on the page.  Easier to just start fresh (plus the old title doesn't really apply to the new build, thus the very generic title of this thread).


Why Play a Druid?



  • Druids are versatile:  Some Druids travel with a loyal animal companion, while others can use Wild Shape to turn into animals.  Druids have ranged and close implement attacks, weapon attacks, and beast form attacks.  Wild Shape Druids can change their fighting style in response to the flow of combat, while Sentinels can literally be in two places at once.  Wild Shape Druids have an impressive repertoire of 3 at-will attacks by default, though Sentinals are unfortunately at the opposite extreme with just 1.

  • Druids fill multiple roles:  Wild Shape Druids are primary controllers that can dip into the striker role without sacrificing much control.  Specialized builds can also be quite competent as secondary leaders or defenders.  Sentinels are primary leaders, though they trade some ability in this role for pure damage encounter powers.  They can also pick up controller powers to diversify their abilities.

  • Druids are the best summoners:  Druid summons get instinctive actions, and while some of them are risky, there are plenty of "safe" onces to choose from.  Attacking without the Druid needing to spend an action provides a nice boost to DPR, and is often a good enough incentive for enemies to attack the summoned creature, which means that you and your allies aren't getting attacked (and the summon's HP pool is "cheaper" than a PCs).  Some summons even get some control effects tacked onto their instinctive actions.  Furthermore, a Sentinel's animal companion is essentially an at-will summon.

  • Druids are mobile:  Wild Shape grants you a minor action shift (which can be a free action in Paragon) and Predators can significantly increase the distance with a feat, plus many of their powers grant shifts.  It also helps that you're an extremely competent charger, so in theory you can Wild Shape (shift) to disengage from an enemy, use your move action to swing around and position yourself, and then charge a particularly juicy enemy (and probably end up flanking for the charge attack, given all of that re-positioning).  Wild Shape Druids are great at punching through the front line and taking on the squishies in back, and take note that they have several tricks up their sleeve for locking down/severely punishing ranged enemies.  Sentinel Druids can move two creatures (Druid + animal companion) with a single move action, and if one is affected by a movement hindering condition, the other can probably move about normally.


Ratings


GOLD indicates what is essentially a must-have option, a rare gem indeed.
Sky Blue options should be strongly considered, as these are optimal choices.
Blue options are very good; they're generally useful and often optimal depending on build.
Black is average.  Solid option, but you could probably do better (you're pretty safe sticking with these for thematic reasons, though).
Purple indicates a below average choice, but for certain character builds (or to preserve thematic consistency) it's still viable.  Still, you shouldn't choose too many of these.
Red is pretty much junk.  Take it at your own risk, but remember that you were warned.


Sources



PHB = Players Handbook
PHB2 = Players Handbook 2
PHB3 = Players Handbook 3
PrP = Primal Power (may also be referred to as PP, though I'll try to be consistent)
MP = Martial Power
FRPG = Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
EPG = Eberron Player's Guide
DSCS = Dark Sun Campaign Setting
AV = Adventurer's Vault
AV2 = Adventurer's Vault 2
D### = Dragon issue ###
PHH = Players Handbook Heroes minis set
HotFL = Heroes of the Fallen Lands
HotFK  = Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
HoS = Heroes of Shadow
HotF = Heroes of the Feywild
HotEC = Heroes of the Elemental Chaos


Common Abbreviations


MBA = melee basic attack
RBA = ranged basic attack
OA = opportunity attack
NAD = non-AC defenses (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will)


Acknowledgements


Molecule, for his excellent Druid guide, Heart of the Wild (which you should check out, because multiple opinions are useful).

Furious_kender for his Sentinel Druid guide, Critters R Us.

LDB for the standardized format.

Everyone that posts with commentary/suggestions.


Class Overview

Class Traits


HP and Healing Surges12 + Con score HP + 5 per level, and 7 + your Con mod healing surges.  This is standard fare for leaders, slightly better than most strikers, and much better than other controllers.  Most Primal classes are tougher than expected for their role, and you'll definitely put that toughness to use mixing it up in melee (a unique playstyle among controllers).  Note that 3 of the Druid builds have Con as a secondary stat, reinforcing the class's innate durability.

Defense bonuses:  +1 Reflex, +1 Will for Wild Shape Druids; +2 Fortitude for Sentinels.

Proficiencies:  You're proficient with the light armors (cloth, leather, and hide) and can use staffs and totems as your implements.  Totems are somewhat lacking in support (but this is slowly being remedied), whereas staffs provide a wide range of options (can't go wrong with a staff of ruin).  In terms of armor, you want hide regardless of your build.  You can also use simple melee and simple ranged weapons, but only Sentinels will bother; Wild Shape Druids will simply tear through opponents with fang and claw.


Class Features


Which Druid Build?


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Wild Shape Druids (PHB2):  Not surprisingly, if you want to focus heavily on fighting in beast form the original Druid is probably your best bet.  This is the only build that gets Wild Shape as a starting class feature, and the Balance of Nature feature also gives them an extra at-will to work with to compensate for the fact that they're restricted to using a beast form power while Wild Shaped.  They also get Ritual Casting, and a choice of Primal Aspect that determines their build choice (additional class features and additional riders on some powers).  They're the only build that can choose all of their powers freely.  In beast form they'll fight in melee a lot, and they're one of the most mobile classes in the game.  They make very good secondary strikers (by enhancing their melee basic attacks with charge and CA support) and/or defenders (mostly by becoming incredibly sticky through a combination of feats and powers). 

Sentinels (HotFK):  This build is a little different from the others in that it's a primary leader as opposed to a controller.  It's not as "pure" a leader as most other classes, however they are very versatile in terms of what niche they can fill (they're a good "5th man").  They're designed to fight with weapons in melee alongside their animal companions, which are sort of like at-will summons and make very efficient damage sponges.  They have very limited options as they can only choose 1 at-will power and they get pre-chosen uses of a single encounter power called Combined Attack (you and the companion both make an attack).  They can choose dailies and utilities freely.  They're also free to pick up implement-based powers (though they have no way to gain access to Wild Shape), and I personally advocate picking one for your only at-will power in most cases.  Both pure and hybrid Sentinels are very good at employing a "wall of fur" strategy, which involves getting as many animal/spirit companions and summons onto the field as possible.

Protectors (HotF):  This is another controller build that emphasizes casting in humanoid form.  They get a class feature called Nature's Growth which creates a zone of difficult terrain that lasts the entire encounter, and they're the only build that can get this power (arguably making them the best as controllers).  Protectors choose a Druid Circle to belong to which determines their Primal Aspect (these are the same as the ones in PHB2 so riders are compatible), their pool of available summons, and provides a bonus to their Nature's Growth power.  They get cantrip-like Primal Attunement powers instead of Ritual Caster, and they have Summon Natural Ally instead of choosing daily powers.  They can notably pick up a feat that gives them Wild Shape and allows them to trade out a use of SNA for a regular daily power.  This is attractive for Druids who want the option to Wild Shape (likely to strengthen a striker or defender secondary role) but also want Nature's Growth.  Because of SNA Protectors are largely forced into being summoners, which is unfortunately restrictive but at least SNA provides strong options.



Wild Shape Druids


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Balance of NatureIt's easy to underestimate the advantage of this class feature.  After all, it's basically telling you that you need to choose at least one at-will with the beast form keyword, and one without it (ensuring that you can do something regardless of your form).  The real boon is the fact that you get 3 at-wills (and 4 if you're human).  As a controller (and a versatile class), anything that provides you with more options in combat is a good thing.  This also gives any Druid the opportunity to have at-will options against all three NADs. 

Primal Aspect:



  • Primal Predator:  You get a +1 bonus to speed as long as you don't wear heavy armor (and there's no reason why you should).  The value of this class feature is equivalent to a Paragon Tier feat (Fleet Footed), and proves to be an appropriate advantage for a secondary striker.  With the right powers and feats, Predator Druids can be more mobile than almost any striker.  This could bring slow races (like Dwarves) up to par, and results in Elves and Thri-Kreen starting with a base speed of 8.  Predators get the best riders for build specific powers, and a solid feat selection.

  • Primal Guardian:  If you're not wearing heavy armor you can use your Con modifier in place of Dex or Int to determine your AC.  Essentially just consolidates your toughness (HP, surges, AC) into one secondary stat.  Many of their riders are solid, though they also get some that just add extra damage.  They tend to have a paucity of good feats.

  • Primal Swarm:  While you're in beast form and not wearing heavy armor, the damage dealt to you by melee and ranged attacks is reduced by your Con modifier.  Unfortunately Swarm Druid AC scales poorly, and there really aren't any good ways to increase it thanks to restrictions on shields, Staff Fighting, etc. in beast form (and your resistance stops functioning in heavy armor).  Past early Heroic the damage reduction simply can't make up for the fact that Swarm Druids will be hit much more frequently, especially in light of the new post-MM3 design (monster damage is much higher now).  If you want to build a beast form off-tank, you're better off with a Guardian Druid unless you know that your campaign won't go past level 6 or 7 (you can fluff it as a swarm anyways).  Their riders are also nothing special, though they do get a nice selection of feats.

  • Primal Wrath:  Accuracy is always nice, so a +1 bonus to class (and Druid PP) powers with certain element types (cold, fire, lightning, or thunder keywords).  Obviously your power choice is restricted if you want to make the most of this build, but there are enough Druid powers (with good ratings) across all levels that it's not a bad choice.  Other major weaknesses of this aspect are a complete lack of feat support and no build-specific riders.  Interestingly, this serves to open up Int as a possible secondary ability, expanding your selection of optimal races (Hamadryad comes to mind).


Ritual Casting:  Standard fare for a controller.  You get Animal Messenger and another 1st level ritual for free, and once per day you can use Animal Messenger without paying the component cost.  Whether or not you're psyched about Animal Messenger depends largely on personal taste, but in a real campaign it's likely to be useful at least once.  Once you hit level 4 try to get your hands on Enchant Magic Item: as long as your party has adequate funds, they'll never lack a magic item of your level or lower that they need.  Furthermore, there are some low level items that are extremely useful for Druids (Claw Gloves, level 4, and Horned Helm, level 6) and being able to enchant them as soon as possible is very convenient.

Wild Shape:  This plays a large role in making the Druid a versatile class, and from a flavor perspective is the Druid's defining feature.  I've heard arguments that Wild Shape is "merely cosmetic" or "doesn't really do anything except restrict what powers you can use at a given time."  You can look at it like that, but you can also say that Wild Shape allows the Druid to switch between melee and ranged combat more easily than any other class that does the same.  You use a single implement in both forms (unlike Bards, Paladins, etc. that need to either carry an implement and a weapon, or restrict their item choice by carrying a weapon that functions as an implement), and changing from beast form to humanoid form grants you a free shift as part of the minor (and later, free) action.  The mobility is nice, and there are both items and feats that let you shift when you change from humanoid to beast form as well. 

Note: The November '10 errata made the wording of Wild Shape less restrictive; now the only powers that you can't use in beast form are weapon or implement powers lacking the beast form keyword. Have fun with your utility powers now!


Sentinel Druids


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Acolyte of the Natural Cycle:  Choose a season, which in turn determines what type of animal companion you get.  This also gives you a feature that improves certain types of simple weapons (making them equivalent to military weapons), and a bonus to a skill.


  • Druid of Spring:  Animal Companion is a wolf.  Gain proficiency with the scimitar, and gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls with scimitars, spears, daggers, and sickles (note that this doesn't specify weapon attacks, so it works with implements as well).  More accurate than Summer Druids, but if you plan on using Implement attacks you'll be stuck with spears (and the Alfsair spear enchantment), or you'll have to multiclass Swordmage to use heavy/light blades as an implement.  You also get a +2 bonus to Heal.

  • Druid of Summer:  Animal Companion is a bear.  You use 1D10 as the weapon damage die for any one handed mace, and 1D12 for two handed maces and staffs.  The staff is currently the best choice if you want a mix of weapon and implement powers, plus the Staff Fighting feat turns it into a nasty double weapon.  You also get a +2 bonus to Athletics. 

  • Druid of the Wastes:  Animal Companion is a living zephyr.  You get +1 to AC and Reflex if you wield a spear or staff, and you get a +2 bonus to Endurance checks. 



Animal Companion:
  A Sentinel's animal companion is essentially an at-will summon, and there are a couple of advantages to always having a second creature on the board.  You occupy an additional space, threaten more squares (the companion's attack is a basic attack, so it can make OAs), and if one of you is affected by a debilitating status effect, the other can still act normally. 
Additionally, since a monster can only make one OA per turn, if you need to walk past an enemy you can send the companion in first to take the OA, and then safely follow in its footsteps.

The companion also acts as a damage sponge; since its HP is equal to your bloodied value at the start of a fight and it only costs a healing surge to summon back (albeit at half HP), enemy attacks against the companion are less efficient.  Even the fact that the companion gets revived at half HP has its advantages, because the more often that the companion drops, the more enemy damage that gets wasted.  For example, if the companion had 2 HP left and an attack hit it for 12 damage, then the companion soaked 10 damage just by "dying."  The companion also reverts to full HP after a rest, and if you use your second wind the companion also regains HP equal to your surge value.  So companions soak damage:  1) by having 2x surge value at the start of a fight, 2) when enemies overshoot their remaining HP to drop them, and 3) when an injured companion recharges its HP after any rest without any resource expenditure.

Another important function that the companion will serve is providing access to healing surges during combat.  Normally this can only be done by using second wind or through a specific power, such as Healing Word.  However, you can keep reviving the companion using a minor action as long as you have the surges to continue doing so.  Each time the companion drops, that's one additional healing surge that the party was able to use in combat, which is great if PC healing is limited and/or if an encounter is particularly difficult.  Because companions are easily healed and soak damage, you should make sure that you have a few tricks for making sure that enemies attack your companion rather than a PC.


  • Wolf:  The wolf is an aggressive animal companion, with an aura that causes enemies to grant CA.  This means that the wolf is very accurate since it will always have CA, though it's slightly less damaging than the bear.  While CA has the potential to be redundant (the aura does nothing if an ally already has CA), the effective +2 to-hit is also more powerful than the bear's defense buff, plus the aura's benefit can be utilized by ranged allies.  The wolf is fast (speed 8), with good AC and balanced defenses.

  • Bear:  The bear is the more defensive choice, and makes a great off-tank.  It's aura grants allies a +2 to defenses, which combined with the bear's innately low AC will make it a very attractive target.  It deals more damage than the wolf (though it won't have permanent CA, so it won't be as accurate), has an average speed of 6, and compensates for a low AC and Reflex with a high Fortitude and Will.

  • Living Zephyr:  This is another defensive choice (aura is lightly obscured to enemies), which can fly and slides the target of its Animal Attack.  Its AC is between the Wolf's and Bear's, and it has solid Fort and Will with a somewhat high Reflex.  Its defensive strategy is likely to be somewhat less dependent on having a good defender than the Bear (but that still helps!).  The Zephyr itself is probably slightly better than the Wolf or Bear (not enough to bump the rating), but some of the Druid of Waste's later features are not quite as good as the Spring/Summer's. 


Primal Guardian:  This is the same class feature that the Guardian build of the Wild Shape Druid gets; consolidates AC, HP, and surges into one secondary stat.

Combined Attack:  This is your encounter attack power for your entire career.  I'm honestly not sure how to rate this.  It's a pretty solid secondary striker power, but I'm not a fan of being locked into it.  At levels where a Wild Shape Druid would normally choose a new encounter power, you simply gain additional uses of Combined Attack.  The damage scales at level 17 and 27.

Healing Word:  Your generic 2/enc heal.  Obviously a staple in any leader's arsenal, but unfortunately the feats that improve Healing Word tend to list "Cleric" as a pre-requisite (you can get around that by multiclassing, but it's a pain to have to spend a feat to do so).

At-will Attack Power:  You only get one since your companion's animal attack counts as one of your at-wills.  Lame!  You can choose any Druid at-will, even the implement attacks designed for the controller Druid.

Wilderness Knacks:  You gain two of these at 1st level, and they typically grant you some minor skill-related benefit in certain situations.  A flavorful little perk.

Hear the Voice of Nature:  You get this at 7th level.  Once per day you can ask non-hostile natural beasts and mundane plants questions, and they'll answer to the best of their knowledge and abilities.  Neat.

Restore Life:  Does what it says; you get it at level 8.  This compensates for the fact that you don't get rituals, and unlike the Raise Dead ritual it doesn't cost you buckets of gold.  That makes it pretty good in my book!

Paragon of the Natural Cycle:  At level 13, you gain a benefit depending on which season you represent.


  • Spring:  You and your wolf regain HP when either of you kills stuff.

  • Summer:  Your reach with melee weapons is extended by 1, so feel free to hide behind your bear.

  • Wastes:  Insubstantial for a round and shift 5 squares the first time that you or your Zephyr are bloodied.



Animal Companion Power:  At level 17 you get a nifty little bonus encounter power.  Not surprisingly, this power depends on what animal companion you have.


  • Dire Wolf Knockdown:  If your wolf hits an enemy while within 5 squares of you, it can knock that enemy prone as a free action.  This gives the wolf some much-needed lockdown potential.

  • Dire Bear Stamina:  As a minor action, you can give your bear resist 10 to all damage for a round.  Depending on your DM and/or what you're fighting, this may just convince enemies to ignore the bear for a round, since its off-tanking potential hinges on it being an attractive target.

  • Zephyr Carry:  Slide the Zephyr and a target that it just hit (as long as the enemy stays adjacent to the Zephyr at the end of the movement).  Decent re-positioning power.



Timeless Body:  Gained at level 23, it basically makes you immortal (you don't age anymore).  You're also immune to diseases of your level or lower.

Nature's Bounty:  It would be nice to get this before level 27, but I guess it's better than not getting it at all.  Adds a rider to your second wind depending on your season.  These "go against" the typical style of the builds, with the more aggressive spring Sentinel gaining a defensive rider, and vice versa for the summer.


  • Spring:  An ally within 10 squares gains resist 10 to all damage until the end of your next turn.

  • Summer:  An ally within 10 squares gains a +5 power bonus to damage rolls until the end of your next turn.

  • Wastes:  A bit situational as the only effect that the ally can end is ongoing damage, but they also get partial concealment which is more universally useful.




Protector Druids


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Nature's Growth:  Finally, a class feature that directly supports the controller role!  This is an encounter power that creates an area of difficult terrain as a minor action that lasts until the end of the encounter.  The area's size scales by tier, and you ignore the difficult terrain.  This is a great way for Druids to physically alter the battlefield as it's long-lasting and has a very favorable action economy.  It's also further modified by your choice of Druid Circle (Guardians buff ally healing in or adjacent to the zone, whereas Predators allow allies to ignore the difficult terrain).  The most obvious advantages to setting up difficult terrain are to prevent your enemies from shifting and to further debilitate enemies that you've slowed, proned, or dazed.  Distant enemies may be denied from closing in from the difficult terrain alone, and forced movement powers can be used to take full advantage of it (since the area is not moveable).

Druid Circle: 


  • Circle of Renewal:  Druids belonging to this circle gain the Primal Guardian class feature, which allows them to use their Con modifier in place of Dex or Int for AC while wearing light armor.  This consolidates your HP, surges, and AC into 1 secondary stat.  The second feature that this circle provides is Healing Growth, which gives allies in or adjacent to your Nature's Growth area an extra Con mod HP whenever they spend a surge.  Free HP is always nice.

  • Circle of Shelter:  Druids in this circle have the Primal Predator class feature which gives you a +1 bonus to speed while not wearing heavy armor.  This is a bit more valuable if you pick up the Beastwalker Circle feat to gain Wild Shape.  Members of the Circle of Shelter also gain the Unhindering Growth feature, which allows allies to ignore the difficult terrain caused by your Nature's Growth power.  Making the power completely friendly is a huge advantage, since your enemies can't turn the terrain against you.


Primal Attunement:  You gain your choice of three cantrip-like powers, the uses of which will largely be out of combat.  I can see some of them being situationally very useful (much like the Wizard's cantrips), but they'll mostly just be neat roleplaying tricks.  Air Spirit is basically a combination of the Wizard's Mage Hand and Light cantrips in one shiny package.  Quite notably, the Conjuration keyword gives this the best in-combat utility.  It's sky blue if you pick up Tome Expertise, since enemies adjacent to your conjurations and summons grant CA (you don't even have to use a Tome to benefit from the feat!).  Call the Spirits produces minor environmental effects like brightening light, opening/closing doors, blowing unattended objects, and creating sparks that can ignite fires.  Senses of the Wild can be used to detect diseases or diseased plants/creatures, the presence or absence of a certain animal/plant, poisons or poison-based hazards, or corpses.  Verdant Touch is the only encounter power of the bunch, and it allows you to negate difficult terrain caused by vegetation for a turn, or it can be used to cause plants to bloom or to grow in barren ground.  Finally, Vine Rope lets you draw a 50 foot vine from the ground that functions as a silk rope.  Could be handy.

Summon Natural Ally:  I'm not quite sure how to rate this class feature.  On the one hand, I don't like having my powers pre-chosen for me.  But on the other, this is a pretty sweet take on summoning.  You gain a pool of creatures you can summon based on your Druid Circle, and whenever you use the power you pick which one to summon on the fly.  As you level you gain access to more powerful summons (at levels 15 and 29).  All of the summons follow the standard Druid pattern where they have instinctive effects but cannot make OAs, making them a good source of damage as well as a damage sink.  All of their attacks inflict some type of effect, and they seem to be a little more hard-hitting than many of the standard daily summons.  One thing to note is that these summons do not get to make an attack as part of the action used to summon them, however this means that they will get to use their instinctive attack at the end of their first round.  It will make no practical difference 99.99% of the time; just don't move the intended target away from the summon with an AP or anything. 


Roles


Perhaps more than any other class, Druids tend to defy being pigeonholed into one role.  Though they'll always be either a primary controller or leader, they can emphasize any other role as secondary to varying degrees.  The overall ratings reflect the Druid's potential to fill a given role; specializing in one area will require sacrifices in another.  In general most builds will have 1 strong secondary role, or 2 moderately effective secondary roles.

Controller:
  This is a Wild Shape Druid's primary role, and since Sentinels can pick up any Druid at-will and Daily powers, they can be decent at it too (though they can't use any beast form powers).  Emphasizing this role almost always involves choosing the right powers and using the right tactics.

Leader:  Sentinel Druids are primary leaders, but they're certainly not as "pure" as most other leader classes.  For one thing, they don't get any encounter powers that contribute to the role.  The animal companion mechanic vaguely serves this role, though it can just as easily be defined as control.  This used to be the most difficult role for a Wild Shape Druid to fill, but now it's pretty straightforward if they simply choose some of the Sentinel's powers.  Note that if you build to do this well by taking leader powers, you'll sacrifice some competence as a controller since control is so power-dependent.

Striker:  This is the easiest role for a Druid to achieve secondary competence in, though Predators exemplify it best since they're the most mobile.  Wild Shape Druids will typically emphasize striking by charging in beast form and gaining CA as often as possible (Claw Gloves are essential).  Striking depends largely on feats and items, so you won't have to sacrifice much effectiveness in your primary role to do well here.  Sentinels are forced into off-striking thanks to Combined Attack.  Any Druid can use Fire Hawk to deal significant damage at range, and choosing summons with good Instinctive Actions for your Daily powers can work wonders for your DPR.  If built for it, Druids can get pretty close to baseline striker numbers, though optimized strikers will obviously always surpass them.

Defender:  Off-tanking isn't terribly difficult for any Summer Sentinel or Swarm Druid, but to be a decent sub-defender you'll have to specialize a bit.  There are several powers that specifically increase your stickiness, and many control powers can be used creatively to serve the same purpose.  Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer is the easiest way to defend at-will, allowing you to immobilize enemies next to you.  Wild Shape Druids (Guardian and Swarm) are the best at this, whereas a Sentinel's lack of stickiness and a Predator's lower durability keep them average to poor.

Attributes


Note:  Recommended starting values are post-racial bonuses.

Strength:  Not all Druids will want to invest in this, but it does have its advantages if you plan on multiclassing, using a shield to boost your AC, or focus heavily on charging (Powerful Charge).  More attractive as a tertiary for Predators, since it boosts a redundant NAD (Fortitude) for Guardians and Swarms.  Recommended starting value:  10-13.

Constitution:  This is the secondary stat of Swarms, Guardians, and Sentinels.  Predators that decide to ignore Strength should make this tertiary to provide a boost in toughness (they tend to be somewhat fragile otherwise).  Swarm Druids may have to balance bumping this for the damage reduction or Dex for additional AC as they level.  I recommend raising Con through Heroic, the level 14 bump can be Con or Dex, but Dex should be improved after that.  Recommended starting value:  10-13 for Dex Druids, 16-18 for Con Druids.

DexterityThe Predator's secondary stat.  Since controllers generally want a high initiative value, Con Druids will likely want this to be tertiary.  Predators want this as high as possible because their AC, initiative, riders, and sometimes mobility depend on it.  Since Swarm Druid AC scales so poorly, they should consider bumping this up as they level instead of Con, especially from Paragon onward.  Recommended starting value:  13 for Con Druids, 16-18 for Dex Druids.

Intelligence:  Book smarts won't get you very far in the wilderness.  Even Con Druids looking to boost Reflex would be better served by bumping Dex, since it gives them a higher initiative.  Only races with an Int boost should do otherwise.  Recommended starting value:  8-10

Wisdom:  This is your primary stat.  Keep it your highest, and strongly consider choosing a race that gets a bonus here.  Recommended starting value:  16-18.

CharismaThe designated dump stat for most Druids.  Druids with notions of being decent at Intimidate might dump Int instead, but since this will never contribute to your Will (you'll always have a better Wis), a player seeking to optimize would be best served by putting an 8 in here.  Recommended starting value:  8
Skills

Class Skills


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Arcana:  It's usefulness depends largely on party composition; if nobody else in the party has it, you should take it.  It also helps out with some rituals.  Unfortunately, Int is a dump stat for you so don't expect to compete with Wizards.

Athletics:  If you don't take it, you'll end up getting laughed at when you try to swim using an alligator's form, climb as a cat, etc.  Strength may range from being a dump stat to tertiary for you; some good reasons to work out occasionally are light shield proficiency, Fighter multiclass, and Powerful Charge.

Diplomacy:  Charisma tends to be the Druid's de-facto dump stat, so the only reason to take this would be if a) nobody else in the party took it and b) nobody in the party has a high Charisma.  Despite your training, don't expect to excel at it.

Endurance:  I'm not sure if this is unique to my play experience, but Endurance seems to be the skill that comes up the least often in-game.  That said, it's nice to have when it does come up, and as a Druid you might want to consider training your body to withstand extreme environments.  This will also be useful if you ever happen to contract a disease and don't have the resources (i.e. ritual) to remove it, and 2 of the 3 builds use Con as a secondary stat.  Endurance will likely become more important in the later tiers if you do a lot of planar travelling to inhospitable environments.

Heal:  Nice for some rituals, but you can also use it to stabilize a fallen ally, allow an ally to use their second wind, or grant an ally a saving throw.  Plus it's based on your primary stat, so you'll be sure to be good at it.

HistoryKeyed off of a dump stat, and there's probably somebody else in the party that's more knowledgeable about such things than you.  Pass.

Insight:  If you want to pull your own weight in social situations, your best bet is to get really good at reading people.  You may not be persuasive, and you may not be good at lying to people, but at least you can see through the facade of others.  Make sure you have some subtle way of communicating your insights with the ones doing the talking though.  May very well be worth training for the skill powers Prescient Maneuver (level 6) and Insightful Riposte (16).  The first is especially useful for mucking up charges on dazed/prone enemies, making it a very useful control option as well as a great source of extra attacks.

Nature:  All Druids are good at this (it's literally a required skill).  Since it's keyed off of your primary stat you'll likely have the highest Nature check in the party.  Good for foraging, identifying monsters, following tracks, navigating, and a myriad of other uses if you get creative. 

PerceptionNobody likes being caught off guard.  Maybe that's why most players tend to value a high Perception.  Even if someone else in the party focuses on this, it's never a bad idea to boost it up yourself.  After all, when you're camping in the wilderness there's likely to be only one person keeping watch during any given shift...


Non-class Skills


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Acrobatics:  Situationally useful; Athletics would probably be a better choice.  Even if you want to be an agile cat in beast form Stealth is more likely to be useful.

BluffI'll just reiterate that Charisma is a dump stat, and since this isn't a class skill you'd have to expend special effort (feat, background, etc) to gain training in it.  Not worth it.

Dungeoneering:  As far as non-class skills are concerned, this is a decent one to pick up.  Like Nature, but for subterranean environments.  Also represents architectural knowledge.

Intimidate:  As intimidating as you might imagine a tiger or a bear roaring in someone's face, most Druids can't do it convincingly.

Religion:  Dump stat, and a fairly common skill for other classes to have.  There's a few rituals that use it, but overall you probably won't need to pick it up (though a lot of multiclass feats give it away, and many of them utilize Wisdom).

StealthYou know it sounds like fun to turn into a sneaky animal and run with the Rogue.  If you're a Predator, you'll have the right stats for it, too.  Good choice as a background benefit.

Streetwise:  Move along, move along...

Thievery:  A Predator will have the right stats for it.  Could be useful if nobody else in the party has it, but it's not exactly thematic for a "traditional" Druid.  If you want it, create a good backstory and roll with it!

Skill Powers


Skill powers tend to be slightly less powerful than class utility powers of the same level, but they're useful for filling in "dud" levels, fleshing out a certain theme, and a good one is definitely worth the Skill Power feat slot.  Note that I won't be rating every single skill power, but rather I'll focus on those that are reasonably useful to Druids in combat, or trap options that seem like they might be useful at first glance.  Some of these can be really situational, and I'm basically going to ignore those.  If you think I left anything worthwhile off the list, let me know and I'll add it.

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Acrobatics
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Agile Recovery (2):  Standing up from prone as a minor action is usually nice, but Wild Shape Druids have good ranged and melee options (including devastating charges) and Sentinels have a second body on the field, so prone doesn't hamper them as much as other classes.

Tumbling Dodge (6):  Only Predators will have a high enough Athletics to make this worthwhile; at 6th level there's a good chance you'll get a +2 to defenses on your interrupt, and it scales well since Athletics goes up with level but the check is always divided by 10. 

Dodge Step (6):  For charge-optimized Druids this is actually really nice.  You can charge, disengage, move back into charging distance, and charge again without leaving beast form.  Since the trigger is an enemy ending its turn adjacent, the enemy can't really react to this tactic.

Graceful Maneuver (6):  Another shift in the arsenal of a highly mobile class certainly couldn't hurt.

Reflexive Dodge (16):  This is another power that Predators will get the most mileage out of.  Reduce damage dealt by an AoE and then shift half your speed. 


Arcana
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Insightful Warning (6):  Defense bonus for you and allies if you're targetting by an AoE.

Elemental Countermeasures (16):  Reduce certain types of elemental damage by your Arcana check divided by 2.  Solid defensive option.


Athletics
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Sudden Leap (6):  Basically lets you jump to any other square adjacent to an enemy (no OAs) if you beat an Athletics check with a DC dependent on the enemy's size.  Decent re-positioning power.


Bluff
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Confusing Blather (6):  Minor action Bluff vs Insight check to cause enemies to not make OAs for a turn.  Useful in a pinch I guess, and it's another tool to augment your mobility, but I'd sooner take a power that grants shifting (see Graceful Maneuver, an Acrobatics power of this level).

Dirty Tricks (6):  Redundant with Confusing Blather but single target, and therefore worse.

Stall Tactics (10):  This power is the only reason you should be looking at Bluff skill powers.  Reducing the initiative of all enemies you can see by 10 when you roll initiative can really allow the party to get the upper hand early.


Diplomacy
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Stirring Speech (6):  Not only is this just a really cool concept for a power, but giving each ally +1 to attacks for the next encounter while not bloodied is excellent.

Cry for Mercy (10):  A nice defense buff for your or an ally while bloodied, plus you don't provoke OAs?  Wow, this can really save your bacon!

Noble Sacrifice (10):  Re-direct an attack against a bloodied ally to you.  Anyone that wants to off-tank should pick this up.

Indomitable Ally (16):  Yeah, it would be ideal if your allies didn't drop to 0 HP at all, but everyone knows it happens.  Allowing them to stay conscious can at least buy them enough time to swig a potion or make a mad dash for the leader or defender.


Dungeoneering
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Trap Sense (10):  This could be more or less useful depending on how many traps your DM likes to use.  The defense buff vs the triggering attack is nice, but re-directing the attack onto an enemy makes this power really shine.


Endurance
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Endure Pain (2):  This is one of those deals where it's definitely too strong to be an encounter power, but as a daily it's not that special.

Invigorating Presence (2):  Help your allies while you help yourself.  Better for Dwarves and Sentinels; since your animal companion counts as an ally and it already gains free HP equal to your surge value when you second wind, this will fully heal it at low levels.

Third Wind (6):  Spending a surge as a minor action isn't bad for a Daily.

Reactive Surge (10):  Spend a healing surge when an attack bloodies you.  Every encounter.  Sweet.

Diehard (16):  Staying conscious while dying can buy you enough time to swig a potion, use a healing power, second wind, etc. 


Heal
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Healer's Gift (2):  Blah, standard action and you need to be adjacent?  You can do that without this power with a heal check to make an ally use their second wind! 

Physician's Care (6):  See Healer's Gift, but remove the "dying" prerequisite. 

Swift Recovery (6):  Now we're talking!  Use a minor action to trigger an adjacent ally's second wind.

Time Out (10):  Thanks to the stealth nerf to the Dwarf's minor action second wind this isn't as appealing as it used to be.  Still, combine it with Swift Recovery and it's not terrible.

Miraculous Treatment (16):  Uhhhh....standard action?  I don't care if it's surgeless healing, by this level you should have access to much better healing if that's what you're going for.


History
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Strategist's Epiphany (2):  Buff the whole party's initiative if you have a good History modifier!

Historical Revelation (6):  Monster knowledge checks actually can have a significant impact on the encounter.  This could result in the party capitalizing on a foe's weakness sooner rather than later.

Tactician's Measure (10):  The defense bonus is always useful, and the shift could potentially disrupt enemy tactics.  Solid.


Insight
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Anticipate Maneuver (2):  Free CA as a minor action isn't bad, especially if you can't get it otherwise for whatever reason.  Introduce your enemy to your Claw Gloves...

Prescient Maneuver (6):  Against slow enemies (or even those with moderate speed, if you're an Elven Predator) this can get you out of range of an enemy as it advances toward you.  Use it against enemies that decide they want to charge (hint: daze or prone them) and you can really screw them; allows you to move into position for an OA, which can stop them in their tracks (Grasping Claws or Polearm-enhanced Savage Rend) and at the very least is a reliable extra attack.

Insightful Counter (6):  Situational, but useful against skirmishers that get bonus damage when they have CA.

Prescient Defense (10):  These "Shield" type interrupts are always welcome.

Insightful Riposte (16):  Turn a miss into a hit!  Can't say no to that.


Intimidate
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Ominous Threat (2):  Marking is nice for any Druid aspiring to be an off-tank, but this doesn't come with mark punishment.  You're probably better off picking up a defender M/C than using the Skill Power feat to get this.

Everybody Move (6):  This is great for a controller; clump enemies up with this (minor action) and then rain down a standard action AoE.  Just watch out for enemies immune to fear effects.

Demoralize Foe (6):  Debuff enemy attacks against you for a turn.  Nice for squishier Predator Druids for when they can't hit and run.

Snap Out of It (10):  The range of melee touch kind of sucks, but giving an ally a saving throw isn't bad.  It can't compete with Clear the Chaff at this level, but if you want to pick up another save granter via the feat then this is a viable choice.


Nature
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Nature Sense (2):  Make sure you go first, and protect the party in the first round of combat!  Flavorful and effective.

Practiced Rider (6):  I'm not big on mounts personally, but if you have one this will make mounting/dismounting in the middle of combat more efficient.

Spot the Path (10):  I guess as far as "ignore difficult terrain" powers go, this one's solid, since everyone in a burst 5 gets the benefit.


Perception
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Guided Shot (6):  Can turn an ally's hit into a miss.  On average, it's going to be an effective +2 to-hit, though with low Reflex creatures you're even more likely to get an opportunity to use it.

Focused Sight (10):  Ignore cover and concealment (partial and total) for a turn.  Situational, but Druids that tend to use ranged attacks will put it to good use.

Uncanny Instincts (10):  You and one ally can use your passive perception in place of an initiative check.  This is a good way of making sure that you go first.

Spot Weakness (10): Give yourself a damage buff for a turn.  Better if you have multiattacks (unfortunately, Combined Attack doesn't count).


Religion
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Faith Healing (2):  Standard action, melee touch daily that allows a creature to spend a healing surge.  Even if you're low on healing you're better off picking up a Daily use of Healing Word from a Cleric M/C.

Theologian's Shield (6):  Some parties encounter necrotic damage often enough for this to be useful (radiant is less common, but we won't complain).  Still, Int is likely to be a dump stat.

Convinction (10):  Bonus to your next save; it would be better if it affected allies too.

Recitation (10):  A bonus to ally attack rolls is nice, but the zone is pretty small (close burst 1) and it has to be sustained.  Better for Sentinels, who won't necessarily need their minor actions as much. 


Stealth
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Shrouding Gloom (6):  Cover/concealment is a lot easier to come by than total cover/concealment.  It's no Camouflage Cloak, but taking both wouldn't be a bad thing.

Crowd Cover (10):  A solid anti-artillery power.  Plus re-directing an attack against an enemy is always fun.

Deepening Gloom (16):  Turn invisible to an attacking enemy as an interrupt when you're hit.  You'll need cover or concealment so it's situational, but invisible is a nice defensive buff.


Streetwise
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Nose for Trouble (2):  You can roll a Streetwise check and replace it with an initiative roll.  Too bad Cha is a dump stat and Streetwise isn't a class skill.  There are other skills which offer similar powers that will serve you better.

Navigate Crowds (10):  Shift your speed and move through enemy spaces.  It's too bad Streetwise is otherwise useless to you.


Thievery
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Quick Switch (6):  Not terrible as a re-positioning power, but I'd rather it be a minor action.

Disruptive Stunt (10):  Move your speed through an enemy's space (without provoking OAs), and debuff their attack rolls for a turn to boot!  Good for setting up flanks, and great against solos.

Races

PHB Races

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Dragonborn:  Not a completely hopeless choice.  Cha is almost always a dump stat, but Str can be useful for some builds.  Additionally, Draconic Heritage synergizes with a high Con and Dragon Breath provides one more AoE option.  Still, you're better off with something else.

Dwarf:  Dwarves actually make superb Druids, as they get a bonus to the primary stat (Wis) and one of the secondaries (Con).  The ability to use your second wind as a minor action is excellent, especially for Swarm Druids that like to off-tank, and it synergizes well with the Druid Paragon feat, Vital Form (which lets you regain your second wind 1/enc when you Wild Shape).  Stand Your Ground is situationally useful.  Dwarves do have a couple of downsides, the first being that their speed is low, and many Druids value mobility.  If you're making a Swarm Druid that functions as a stalwart off-tank, or if you plan on hanging back and flinging ranged evocations most of the time the speed isn't as much of an issue.  The other downside is that their most attractive feat, Dwarven Weapon Training, is pretty much useless for you (unless you want to MC or Hybrid).

Eladrin:  Eladrin can hold their own as Predator Druids (thanks to their Dex bonus).  The Int is wasted though.  Fey Step is a nice way to boost the mobility of an already mobile class, and provides a get out of jail free card if you're ever immobilized or restrained.  Since Druids tend to have excellent Perception, the party will sleep easy knowing that you'll be on watch a lot (thanks to Trance).  I've also heard of Druid Feycharger builds, so you can basically become a blink dog if you go that route.

Elf:  Hands down the best option for Predators.  Boosts to your primary and secondary stats mean that you'll easily be able to start with an 18 in both, resulting in good offense (attack), defense (AC), Initiative, and mobility (thanks to various powers and feats that utilize Dex).  The Elven base speed of 7 also means that as a Predator Druid, Elves get a speed of 8 right out of the box.  Predators shift a lot as well (don't forget that Wild Shape grants you a shift!), so the power of their Wild Step cannot be overstated.  It can be a source of endless frustration for a DM that plans to give the party a headache with terrain, only to have you ignore it.  Plus Elven Accuracy is one of the best racial powers that a controller can get their hands on.  In addition to making godly Predators, Elves can also excel as Guardians or Swarm Druids (though not to the same extent). 

Half Elf: 
The November '10 errata with racial adjustments from HotFK essentially (no pun intended) upgraded Half Elves from the low end of black all the way up to sky blue. Con is now their main stat bump, with a choice of either Cha or Wis, so they get a bonus to the primary and secondary stat of all Druid builds except the Predator. Plus you can trade out Dilletante (which most Druids don't have much use for) for a flexible new racial power, Knack for Success. Your choice of a free saving throw, mobility, accuracy, or a skill bonus for you or an ally; talk about versatile! 

Halfling: 
Halfling's can now get a bonus in Dex and Con, the Druid's 2 secondary stats (with the other likely to be tertiary). Their racial bonus against OAs will mostly be unneeded because of the Predator's myriad ways of shifting, and since they'll be charging a lot a Badge of the Berskerker would go further in protecting them from OAs. Still, their speed isn't penalized for being small and Second Chance will give them a little extra durability. Since small characters get kind of screwed when using weapons, the Druid is a good way to give Halflings the chance at making a melee class and not being gimped for it.  Halfling Summer Sentinels require the feat Stout Handed Staff (D391) to be viable

Human:  They'll excell at most classes because they're designed to do exactly that.  The bonus feat is gravy since Druids have a ton of good feats to choose from, and the bonus at-will means that they'll have a total of 4.  That's a good situation for a controller to be in, especially one that places particular emphasis on versatility.  Put your stat bonus into Wisdom, obviously.

Tiefling: 
At least they don't get bumps to two dump stats anymore. Despite having access to a Con bump, they still make sub-par Druids. I've always found Infernal Wrath to be somewhat underwhelming as it is, but as a class that dumps Cha it's just pathetic. Furthermore, it's difficult to follow the "standard Tiefling optimization" rules (Hellfire Blood + a Flaming Weapon or fire powers) because you don't have an overabundance of Fire powers.


PHB2 Races

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Deva:  The bonus to Wisdom is excellent, and Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes is almost as good a racial power as Elven Accuracy (you can't do anything about a particularly bad roll on a key attack, but if you just missed with an attack you can fairly confidently turn that into a hit).  Deva make better Con based Druids, and are one of those rare builds that might be better off focusing on Int instead of Dex to boost Reflex.  If you choose Primal Wrath as your Primal Aspect, you even have the option of going with Int as a secondary stat (the race is sky blue for such a build).  Battle Intuition is an excellent initiative boosting racial feat (an improved Battlewise, basically), so the loss of Dex won't hurt quite as much.

Gnome:  Same stats as the Tiefling.  Fade Away is at least a useful racial power for you, but the fact that your speed is 5 means that you're still not much better than your Infernal friend.  Pity, as Gnome Druids have a certain thematic appropriateness to them. 

Goliath:  They get an optional bonus to Wis now (but lose out on Con by doing so), and with the Str bonus you can reap the benefits of having a 13 Str without putting more than 1 stat point into it.  Powerful Athlete makes your beast form seem less...clumsy.  Stone's Endurance is a quality racial power, very similar to Barkskin.  A good choice for Druids who want to off-tank.

Half-Orc: 
Not a bad choice at all. You can get a bonus to both secondary stats, and the other racial features are all great. Any melee class will get some mileage out of Half-Orc Resilience, and the benefit of Furious Assault is obvious for a secondary striker. Swift Charge is pretty sweet too, since most Druids have a pretty potent charge.

Longtooth Shifter:  The Wis bonus is solid, and the Str is helpful to some builds (since you can get 13 Str so easily, you should go for it).  Thanks to the Longtooth shifting racial power, Longtooth Shifters are among the toughest Swarm Druids (pick up Beasthide Shifting in Paragon).  An excellent pick for an off-tank.

Razorclaw Shifter:  Same stat bonuses as the Elf, without the other little perks (Wild Step, Elven Accuracy, and base speed 7).  However, you're faster than the Elf while shifting, and you get a bonus to Reflex and AC.  Nearly as good a choice for a Predator, but can't keep up with the Elf as a Guardian or Predator (Razorclaw shifting doesn't synergize as well as the Elf racials). 


PHB3 Races

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Githzerai:  Same stat layout as the Elf and Razorclaw Shifter, so Githzerai prefer Predator Druids.  The racial initiative bonus and the free shift when you second wind are both solid for the Druid.  The racial power, Iron Mind, gives you a +2 bonus to defenses as an interrupt; certainly useful, but IMO not quite as good as the Elf or Shifter racial powers.  Still an elite choice for a Predator, and a solid choice for a Con-based Druid.

Minotaur:  Can get a bonus to Wis or Con, both of which are useful to a Druid (too bad you can't pick both).  When you drop to 0, you can make a MBA as an immediate interrupt, and the Druid has some good ones (if none of your allies are nearby, slowing could prove useful).  The extra healing surge is appreciated, though the racial AC bonus against OAs while charging will be moot once you get a Badge of the Berserker.  Also, Goring Charge is probably not as good as Savage Rend/Grasping Claws. 

Wilden:  Bonus to primary stat, and choice of bonus to either secondary!  They're plant people, so they should make natural Druids.  They get a choice of three racial encounter powers: one works well with AoE's (check), another synergizes well with MBA's and charges, and dazes to boot (check plus), and the third grants some mobility and damage, and allows you to ignore cover/concealment (check).  Since all three work very well with the Druid class, the Wilden adds more versatility to an already versatile character.  They join the ranks of Elves and Dwarves as elite Druid races.

Shardmind:  Surprisingly, not that bad of a choice.  You can choose Wisdom as one of your stat bumps, and the racial power can be extremely useful for making use of your Claw Gloves, or just for getting out of sticky situations.  Plus communicating telepathically while in beast form is just awesome.  Note that if you choose Primal Wrath as your Primal Aspect, you can use Int as your secondary stat (in which case the race becomes sky blue for that build).


Other Races

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Drow (FRPG/HotFK):  These guys were so far off the radar before that I completely forgot to include them until the HotFK update, and nobody even noticed! The update lets them move into the Elf's niche (same stat bumps), though their racial traits aren't quite as good (though they do come close!). Both racial powers are great for gaining CA, which your Claw Gloves will appreciate immensely. Darkvision's a pretty sweet deal, too.

Mul (DSCS): 
Similar to the Dwarf, but faster.  Fewer racial traits, but an extra healing surge is a nice one.  The racial power lets you make a no action save at the start of your turn, which is less useful than the Dwarf's minor action second wind in Heroic, but will start to catch up some time in Paragon when status effects become more prevalent.

Shadar-Kai (D372):  Can get Dex/Wis stat bumps now.  The Racial power is a short teleport, but it makes you insubstantial for a turn so it's arguably better than Fey Step.  Since Predators (that is the build you were going for, right?) can be somewhat frail, this is a valuable racial power to them.  The Fort patch is also welcome.

Thri-Kreen (DSCS):  Gets the all important Dex/Wis stat bumps for a Predator Druid, and is just as fast as the Elf.  Natural Jumper is great for when you're Wild Shaped into a big cat, for example, so you can actually jump like one.  Thri-Kreen claws is a superb racial power, providing some nova potential to striker focused Druids.  Multiple Arms synergizes very well with some of the Druid utilities that create items (Goodberry, Seed of Healing).  Easily one of the best Druid races.

Bladeling (MotP):  
Normally I'd give a Dex/Wis race an automatic sky blue rating, but these guys have very little support and no racial advantages aside from the stat synergy.  Knocking these guys down to blue was the easiest way for me to distinguish them from Elves, Razorclaw Shifters, and Githzerai, all of which have clear advantages over Bladelings. 

Hamadryad (HotF):  You get the all-important Wis boost, but for most builds you don't have secondary stat support.  The exception to this is those who choose Primal Wrath as their Primal Aspect, in which case you can make Int your secondary stat (the race is bumped up to sky blue for this specific build).  Hamadryad Aspects is a solid racial power, with Spellbinding Beauty giving you CA for multiple targets (hint: use an AoE) and Wooden Form being a nice "save your butt" choice, especially for Wild Shape Druids who will be in melee.

Kalashtar (EPG):  The Wisdom bonus makes this a solid, though thematically odd, choice for a Druid.

Changeling (EPG):  You are the ultimate Shapeshifter.  In this sense, the Druid is a nice thematic fit for the race.  The Dexterity bonus is definitely helpful for Predator Druids as well, but there's not much more
to recommend this race.

Gnoll (D367):  A bonus to either secondary stat and a base speed of 7 isn't terrible.  Pack Attack is situational and will depend more on your party than anything (Sentinels might see more use out of it since their companion is an "free" extra ally).  Ferocious Charge definitely plays to a (Wild Shape) Druid's strength, but the benefit is pretty underwhelming.  Nothing very impressive here.

Pixie (HotF):  Possible Dex bonus means you'll probably be a Predator Druid.  Flight keeps them from being purple despite the poor stat synergy, and the racial power (Pixie Dust) is a nice movement enabling power for allies.  The fact that you can communicate with animals and can realistically take on avian forms with Wild Shape (while other races can do this too, it's just silly since they can't fly) are also nice touches, even if they have very little mechanical significance.

Revenant (D376):  No Wisdom bonus, but it does get a boost to both of the Druid's secondary stats.  The Racial power, while useful, isn't a game breaker (just some extra damage), but the ability to stay conscious after dropping to 0 HP is extremely useful, especially since Druids can use the action to hinder opponents or get out of melee (and danger).  The Past Life feature also gives them nice flexibility.  Check out Blightbeast for an awesome in-theme PP.  One of the better choices within their rating category (black).

Satyr (HotF):  A bonus to either secondary stat won't go to waste, and Lure of Enchantment is a very nice racial power.  Combine with Grasping Claws, WSG, or a whole slew of other powers that inflict dazed, immobilized, prone, etc. to possibly coax a denied standard action where there wouldn't normally be one.  Forced movement also allows for zone abuse, can position enemies near summons to get the most out of instinctive actions, and the combat advantage is just icing on the cake (especially considering Claw Gloves).

Warforged (EPG):  These guys make extremely tough Swarm Druids, and given their bonus to both Str and Con are one of the few races that will be able to easily afford 13 Str as a Con build.  Their racial power augments the natural toughness of a Swarm Druid, and being safe from failed death saves means that they're not in dire peril if they decide to off-tank with low HP. 

Genasi (FRPG):  Stat bonuses are just in the wrong places.  Str is sometimes a tertiary stat for shield proficiency and/or polearm shenanigans, but otherwise the only thing Genasi have going for them is a decent Racial power, depending on what you choose.  The mobility provided by the Watersoul and Windsoul racial powers are useful, and Earthsoul Genasi can knock enemies prone in a close burst 1.  Still not enough to recommend this race for the Druid class.

Vryloka (HoS):  Possible bonus to Dex, but other than that Druids won't get much else from this race.  At least it's not the Shade though.

Shade (HoS):  Nobody likes this race as it is because of the healing surge penalty and the combat-useless standard action racial power, but aside from those issues it doesn't even offer Druids anything except a possible bonus to Dex.
Feats



Heroic Tier



General Feats

Staff Expertise (HotFL/HotFK):  This does what Versatile Expertise does, but specific to Staffs.  Also, when using a staff as an implement you don't provoke OAs for using ranged attacks in melee, and when using a staff as a weapon you gain reach.  Unless you have a very good reason not to (polearm build, spring Sentinel, built around a specific totem enchantment) you should always use a staff, and always take this feat.

Totem Expertise (HotF):  This is the specific Expertise feat for Totems.  You can ignore partial cover and concealment when using a Totem.

Versatile Expertise (PHB3):  This will apply to your implement and weapon attacks.  This is your Expertise option if you're a spring Sentinel or if you use an Alfsair Spear.  Some DMs houserule that everyone gets this for free, so you might want to ask your DM about that.

Battlewise (HotFK):  Going first is important especially for controller Druids, and since Con builds won't have the greatest Dex this can be a real boon.  Great for Sentinels, who usually want to get their companion into position as early as possible.

Cunning Stalker (HotFK):  Simply put, a dream come true for Wild Shape Druids.  Less useful for Sentinels, since they'll often want to be in the aura of their animal companion, thus they're less likely to be the only creature adjacent to an enemy. 


Disciple of Stone (HotFK):  Sentinels will be spending healing surges a lot during combat, and this gives them a good amount of THP whenever that happens.  In terms of defensive feats I'd probably take Toughness over this, but just barely (this is a close second).  Black for Wild Shape Druids, though summoners will find it more useful.

Improved Defenses (HotFL/HotFK):  Scaling bonus to all NADs.  The only reason this isn't gold is because of Superior Fortitude/Reflexes/Will.  This is still the better choice if you want all of your defenses to be solid, and if you want to save feat slots and/or don't care about dumping 1 or 2 NADs for some reason.

Improved Initiative (PHB):
  Controllers should generally act before the monsters.  It allows them to preemptively set up favorable conditions before the monster's have even had a chance to act.  Certain Dailies (Faerie Fire, Wall of Thorns, Vine Serpents, Entangle) are good choices for locking or slowing down enemies before they can do anything.  Sentinels benefit from high initiative as well, since it's helpful to get their companion into position as early as possible.

Mark of Healing (EPG):  This is an excellent way for Sentinels to pick up some save granting.  Works with healing powers and heal checks used to grant an ally second wind.

Mark of Passage (EPG):  Between Wild Shape and all of the powers with shifts tacked on, Druids shift a lot.  This will probably come into play most rounds for Predators (especially if you like to switch between beast and humanoid form a lot).

Resilient Focus (HotFL/HotFK):  A +2 bonus to all saving throws?  Most characters will want this at some point, though it can probably wait until mid to late Paragon.

Staff Fighting (D368):  Makes your staff a 2 handed weapon with the "defensive" property.  Excellent choice for Summer Sentinels, as it opens up Two Weapon Fighting and Two Weapon Defense.  For Wild Shape Druids, it's purple or red, depending on how often you're in beast form.  You don't benefit from mundane weapon properties in beast form, and that's just when you need the AC the most.

Superior Fortitude (HotFL/HotFK):  Resistance to ongoing damage on top of your scaling Fortitude bonus.

Superior Implement Training (PHB3):  A great way to give your attacks a little more oomph as a caster.

Superior Reflexes (HotFL/HotFK):  CA on your first turn of an encounter, in addition to a scaling bonus to Reflexes.  If you're a Predator, a good argument could be made for picking up this and Superior Will instead of Improved Defenses.

Superior Will (HotFL/HotFK):  A free saving throw vs dazed or stunned at the beginning of your turn, in addition to a scaling bonus to Will.  If you're a Predator, a good argument could be made for picking up this and Superior Reflexes instead of Improved Defenses.

Tome Expertise (HotEC):  You're not required to wield a Tome to use this feat's secondary benefit (you don't even need to be proficient with Tomes), and what it does is cause enemies adjacent to your conjurations or summons to grant CA.  Daily summons, the Primal Attunment "Air Spirit," and a spirit companion (Shaman M/C or hybrid) are great ways to take advantage of this.

Wintertouched (PHB):
  Combine with Lasting Frost to cause enemies to grant CA and cold vulnerability whenever they're hit with a cold power.  Druids have an ok selection of cold powers, but if you plan on taking advantage of the "Frostcheese" combo you should pick up a Cold Quarterstaff.

World Serpent's Grasp (HotFK):  Grasping Claws, meet your new best friend!  Obviously incredible for Wild Shape Druids that have a lot of slow effects, though it's substantially less useful for Sentinels.

Aggressive Advantage (HotFK):  Automatic CA during your first turn?  Yes please!  The first round is often the best time to use a big, multitarget Daily, and you want those attacks to count!  Encourages using Action Points early.  However, if you qualify for Superior Reflexes then this is red.

Coordinated Explosion (PHB2):  If you plan on using a lot of AoE's, you're probably going to suffer from "friendly fire" sooner or later.  Might as well benefit from it.  Make sure that you remember which of your allies has high Reflex and Fortitude, and choose your attacks accordingly based on who is in the area.  You might want to synergize with an exceptionally tough ally, perhaps even choosing powers correspending to the resistances that your party has.  With some planning, catching an ally in the blast could turn into a good thing!

Deadly Draw (PHB3):  Combat advantage against enemies that you pull or slide adjacent to you.  Good thing you can do that at-will (aren't you glad you picked up those Claw Gloves?).

Hafted Defense (PHB3):  Great for Summer Sentinels, but the powers that be have declared that while Wild Shaped, you can no longer be considered wielding your staff in two hands, despite the fact that you're considered to be wielding your implement in beast form even though it's melded into your new shape.  Inconsistent if you ask me, but them's the breaks.  Wild Shape Druids should pass.

Hide Armor Expertise (PrP):  Only relevant for Swarm Druids; Predators and Guardians get nothing from it.  The March 2010 errata severely limited the potency of this feat.  Instead of adding your Con mod to AC while wearing Hide, you can use a +2 bonus instead of your Dex or Int.  If you dump them completely, you'll want to pick this up, but by Epic your stat bumps will turn even a starting modifier of +1 into a +2, meaning that it's time to re-train this. 

Implement Focus (HotFL):  About time this feat got created!  For striker builds, this is an obvious pick for boosting damage.

Melee Training (HotFL/HotFK):  Unfortunately, Sentinels will probably want to pick this up, despite the nerfed damage.  Still, not as high a priority as for some classes, since your companion can still make OAs just fine.

Skill Power (PHB3):  Another utility power for the price of a feat?  Yes, please!  I'm fond of some of the options for Heal and Endurance, personally.

Staggering Smash (PrP):  You have access to a lot of powers that daze.  Some of them are melee.  Being able to place a dazed enemy 1 square away from you prevents them from charging you.  A great option to enhance your control.  The push will only be useful against stunned creatures if you push them into an ongoing damage zone, hazardous terrain, etc.  Still, an excellent choice.

Swift Recovery (HotFL/HotFK):  A solid defensive choice, especially for Sentinels since it will benefit their companions as well.

Toughness (PHB):  If you have room for it, take it.  The extra HP is a nice perk, and it also increases your bloodied value and surge value correspondingly (so over the course of an adventuring day, it works out to be more than just 5/10/15 extra HP).  Your summons can use the extra HP, too.  Sky blue for Sentinels, since their companion gives this feat more mileage.

Two Weapon Defense (PHB/HotFL):  A worthwhile option for Sentinels that want to boost their AC (and damage, since they'll need TWF to qualify for this).

Vicious Advantage (PHB3):  CA against slowed or immobilized targets is great!  As a controller you'll be dishing out those effects often, and Claw Gloves will ensure that you get a lot of mileage out of it!

Weapon Focus (PHB):  A good enough option for Sentinel's that want to increase their damage output.  Note that this doesn't apply to implement attacks anymore.

Combat Reflexes (PHB):  To-hit bonuses are nice, and you have good OAs, but you probably won't have room for this feat.  Still, it could be useful for off-tanks. 

Defensive Mobility (PHB):  Swarm Druids that specialize in getting behind enemy lines and blowing everything up with their close attacks might want to look into this.  Predators don't need it with all of the shifting they can do.

Distant Advantage (PHB2):  As a class that can enter melee to benefit from CA, this isn't as much of a must-have for you as it is for fully ranged classes.  Still, if you have allies that reliably set up flanks then this could be a significant accuracy boost for you.  Combine with Coordinated Explosion and watch the fireworks.

Durable (PHB):  The extra surges can be useful, especially for a Predator.  Salves of Power and Summons are two things that can chip away at your surges.  Still, it's not a top priority.  I would advise playing through a few levels, and if you're consistently the reason why the party has to stop to rest, then pick it up (I'd advise that for any character thinking about Durable, not just Druids).

Mark of Storm (EPG):  Druids aren't exactly swimming in thunder/lightning powers, but anyone planning on taking the Storm Speaker PP should at least pick this up.  Better if you plan on wielding a Lightning Quarterstaff.

Powerful Charge (PHB):  A good choice if you're trying to get your damage as high as it can go; you already have other ways of boosting charge damage.  Overall, Enraged Boar Form is better though, so pick that up first.

Terrain Advantage (HotFK):  If you can reliably set up difficult terrain, this might be a good way to get CA regularly (Protectors, take note).

Timely Respite (PHB2):  If you're going to take this, you should already have a better-than-normal second wind (Dwarves, Wild Surge, Vital Form).

Two Weapon Fighting (PHB/HotFL):  Sentinels might appreciate the extra damage.  Spring Druids may consider sickles or daggers for an off-hand weapon, whereas Summer Druids will likely want Staff Fighting to qualify for this.  

Fast Runner (PHB):  You charge a lot, but I can't remember a situation where my Elven Predator has ever needed to cover more distance.  Maybe a Dwarf could use it though.

Great Fortitude (HotFL/HotFK):  Scaling bonus to Fortitude; overshadowed by Improved Defenses and Superior Fortitude.

Iron Will (HotFL/HotFK):  Scaling bonus to Will; overshadowed by Improved Defenses and Superior Will.

Lightning Reflexes (HotFL/HotFK):  Scaling bonus to Reflex; overshadowed by Improved Defenses and Superior Reflexes.

Reckless Charge (PrP):  As far as charge enhancing feats go, this one's a pretty bad deal.  If you can coordinate with your defender such that you're never really at much risk of being attacked after charging then it's worth it, but the odds of that consistently going smoothly are pretty slim.


Animal Empathy (PrP):  How often do you need Insight when "dealing with beasts?"  I get that it's thematic, and something that Druids should be able to do, but the mechanical benefits are situational and not very good to begin with.  You're a Wisdom based class, so your Insight should be fine for most skill checks regardless. 


Improved Bull Rush (PHB2):  You have Savage Rend.  Walk away, and don't look back.  Forget about this feat's existence. 

Improved Grab (PHB2):  Even if you have a grappler build you don't want this.  Grappler Druids use their powers, not the grab action, to grab (counter-intuitive, isn't it?).  In any case, this bonus won't work with a power like Latch On because it's not the grab action (rather, it has a grab effect).

Shield Proficiency (Light) (PHB):  The March 2010 errata has decreed that this no longer works in beast form.  Bummer.



Class Feats

Agile Form (PrP):  Shift 1 square when you use Wild Shape to go into beast form.  With this feat, you can potentially shift as a minor action every round (assuming you're fine with constantly bouncing between beast and humanoid forms).  Note that Pouncing Beast Armor does the exact same thing, but as far as I know the two do stack so you may want to pick up both.

Beastwalker Circle (HotF):  Some builds will value this more than others, but essentially what this feat does is give Protectors Wild Shape (but not the bonus at-will) and allows them to switch out a use of Summon Natural Ally for a regular Druid daily attack.  This is a better deal than what it looks like at first glance.  Nature's Growth works very well for beast form Druids, making them more sticky by preventing shifting.  Wild Shape also opens up more damage, primarily via charge/CA support, not to mention granting a minor action shift.  Even if you don't plan on utilizing Wild Shape much, it's good to have in your back pocket for emergencies, and you can at least choose non-summoning dailies (except for 1 use of SNA) if that fits your concept better.

Enraged Boar Form (PHB2):  +1 to attack and +2 to damage while charging.  Since charging already gives you an intrinsic +1 to attack, you can secure a decent increase in DPR when you charge (try charging with CA for an overall +4 to attack).  Furthermore, you have great powers (Savage Rend and Grasping Claws) that you can use with a charge.

Ruthless Killer (D382):  As long as you stay adjacent to the target, you can choose to immobilize rather than slow the target of Grasping Claws.  You couldn't ask for a better feat if you're an off-tank trying to become stickier. 

Primal Fury (PHB2):  Predator only, gives you a +1 to attack against bloodied enemies (with Primal powers).  If the party focus fires enough that there are consistently bloodied enemies on the battlefield you can get this bonus more than 50% of the time.  Definitely worthwhile.

Stinging Swarm (PrP):  You'll probably get hit a lot as a Swarm Druid, which means that you'll have CA a lot if you take this feat.  And no worries, because you can resist a good chunk of the damage you take. 

Strong Willed Summoning (PrP):  One of the few ways to boost your summoning prowess in Heroic tier.  This can probably wait for late Heroic though, when you're more likely to have a summoned creature out almost every encounter. 

Ape's Reach (D383):  Opens up Polearm Gamble as an option, but only when you're bloodied.  Also allows you to hide behind the defender while you pound on the enemy with Grasping Claws or Savage Rend.  Plus, if you're bloodied you probably need the protection that reach could give you.  The bonus to Athletics checks is icing on the cake, making this a solid feat.

Druid of Darkness (PrP):  It's Ferocious Tiger Form, but just for Drow.  The good news is that they stack, so if you want to build a striker Druid that plays like a Rogue (and are willing to go with Drow), you might as well pick this up. 

Ferocious Tiger Form (PHB2):  +2 damage when you have CA in beast form.  If you have room for it, it synergizes nicely with Claw Gloves.  Weapon Focus is a better choice though, since it applies all the time (though WF won't work with totems).  Builds with a strong focus on dealing damage will probably take it eventually.

Patient Hunter (D382):  Makes Pounce a black power.  Do you really want to spend a feat to make one of your sub-par at-wills merely average?  That said, if you're set on Pounce you'll want to pick this up.

Predator's Burst (PrP):  The feat table says that you get a +1 to attack while charging with this, but the feat description says it's a +1 to damage.  If it's the former bump it up to blue, if it's the latter bump it down to purple.  The general rule of thumb is to go with what the text says, but hopefully an errata will get rid of this ambiguity. 

Stampede (D383):  Free movement after a charge is nice.  This synergizes really well with Polearm builds (easily blue), since you need to slide an enemy 2 squares to knock them prone, and you generally want to be 1 square away from prone enemies (so they can't charge you).  Without this feat you can still slide them to within 1 square of you, but being able to move a square yourself allows you to fine-tune your positioning better.

Turtle's Shell (D383):  Very flavorful, but mechanically it's only useful for a few builds.  Dwarves will usually use their second wind in every encounter; twice after they pick up Vital Form.  Wild Surge lets any race do this, but you can't get it until Epic.  For those that can use it cheaply (minor or free action) and often (2/enc with Vital Form), it's a significant defensive buff and is probably blue.

Constrictor's Grasp (D383):  Useful only for grappler builds.  Decent source of auto damage if you like to spam Latch On. 

Primal Instinct (PHB2):  Conditionally useful, but probably not worth a feat slot for most builds.  You can't use it on yourself, and as the controller you're most likely to want to go first.  If there's a Rogue in the party this might be black since it decreases the odds of them losing First Strike. 

Quick Stow (PrP):  You're usually not going to be holding anything too important unless you're multiclassed into a weapon user.  In that case, you should probably pick this up, otherwise ignore it.  Note that the example of "Shields" as a "held item" is more than likely erroneous (for further explanation see the "Character Creation" section).  I'm not a fan of this feat specifically for the shield controversy that it introduced into RAW.

Shifting Wind (D383):  Dwarves can use it to boost their mobility a bit, but it's still only a 1/encounter shift (until you get Vital Form).  Once you hit Epic and Wild Surge becomes available, any race can make use of this.

Unstoppable Beast (D382):  You can shift 1 square into the target's original space when you use Savage Rend.  Savage Rend is a great power, but this feat doesn't really do much to enhance it.  It might be useful for Alfsair Spear + Polearm Momentum Druids who want to stay 1 square away from their prone targets (though that can already be done without this feat).

Watchful Guardian (PrP):  This bonus is so situational that I would more than likely forget I even have it.  It requires you to be in beast form and assumes that a monster will actually risk provoking an OA (in my experience this happens fairly rarely).  Then you have to remember that adjacent allies get the bonus too.  I'm skeptical that a Druid is going to be adjacent to an ally often enough for this to be worth a feat slot.

Beast Form Eyes (D383):  Do you really want to spend a precious feat slot just to get low light vision?  What makes this feat even worse is that if you already have low light vision, it's just a paltry +2 bonus to Perception.

Call to the Wild (HotF):  In the vast majority of cases it won't be worth it for a non-Protector to spend a feat to gain a use of Summon Nature's Ally.  The existing summoning powers are too similar anyways.

Cheetah's Speed (D383):  A +4 speed bonus while charging is fairly significant, but the requirement that you need to be bloodied just kills it.

Monkey's Rush (D383):  If you haven't figured it out yet, these D383 feats are largely pretty useless.  As with Wild Bull Rush, why on earth would a Druid do it?

Slithering Form (D383):  Why would you need to crawl?  Standing up is a move action and doesn't provoke OAs.  Druids are also good at charging and have range attacks. 

Wild Bull Rush (PrP):  Why on earth would a Druid have a reason to bull rush?  Savage Rend is superior in every way.  Pass.


Racial Feats

DEVA:
Battle Intuition (D374):  A feat and a half for the price of one; you get to use Wis instead of Dex for initiative, plus an additional +2 bonus.  Great for Con Druids.

Focus the Spirits' Lives (PrP):  Better than Auspicious Lineage if you spend a lot of time in beast form.

Auspicious Lineage (PHB2):  Not likely to make much of a different, but accuracy is accuracy.

DRAGONBORN:
Enlarged Dragon Breath (PHB):  A minor action close blast 5 isn't too shabby for a controller.

DROW:
Druid of Darkness (PrP):  It's Ferocious Tiger Form.  Since they stack, Drow basically get to take the feat twice.  Not too bad, for pseudo strikers.

DWARF:
Stone Step Spirits (PrP):  Shifting is moving, so this basically gives you the Elf's Wild Step and then some, because you can also ignore difficult terrain on a charge.  A huge boon for Dwarven Druids, whose biggest weakness is their slow speed.

Spirits of Stone (PrP):  You get a +2 bonus to your next attack after using your second wind.  Dwarves have no reason not to use their second wind every single encounter (twice, after they've picked up Vital Form in Paragon), which means that this is a pretty decent attack buff.

ELADRIN:
Eladrin Soldier (PHB):  If you're multiclassing with a weapon using class, this is probably the best way to pick up an Alfsair Greatspear.  Otherwise you have no use for this feat, making it red.

ELF:
Wild Elf Luck (FRPG):  See Elven Precision.  There's a 25% chance this will be worse on any given roll, 25% chance it'll be the same, and 50% chance that it will be better than Elven Precision.  Those are good odds.

Elven Precision (PHB):  If you're re-rolling an attack, it's probably an attack that you would like to see hit. 

HALF-ORC:
Thirst For Battle (PHB2):  You're a controller, so you like having a high initiative.  You also favor the Predator build, which can definitely use the extra healing surge.

Primal Resilience (PrP):  Improve your Half-Orc Resilience, but this is based on Con (whereas Half-Orcs synergize best with Predators).

Savage Assault (PHB2):  As a controller, de-buffing is part of your job.  A free de-buff with your racial power is, therefore, a decent investment.

GOLIATH:
Markings of the Victor (PHB2):  You get to reroll your first attack roll every encounter.  Controllers typically want to make a big impact in the first round, to disable the enemy before they can get an advantage (another way of looking at it is giving your party an advantage right away).

HALFLING:
Halfling Agility (PHB):  Solid attack de-buff when you use your racial power.

Lost in the Crowd (PHB):  If you spend a lot of time in beast form, this is a good way to boost your survivability.


HUMAN:
Action Surge (PHB): 
More accurate attacks when you use an Action Point is good for any class.  After all, if you're using an AP you probably want to make a big impact on the battle.

Human Perseverence (PHB):  Who doesn't like saving throw bonuses?  Shrug off effects so you can deal more!

MINOTAUR:
Bloodied Ferocity (PHB3):  Can't argue with free attacks!  Provides an incentive for enemies not to attack you, or you can force them to trigger it by locking them down next to you.

Springing Charge (PHB3):  For the Druid that wants to imitate a Barbarian; getting a free charge when you crit is awesome, and even better for crit fishing builds.

SHARDMIND:
We Were Once One:  Allies within telepathy range can make a save when you spend a healing surge.
 

SHIFTER (GENERAL):
Wild Senses (PHB2):  It's a slightly less potent version of Improved Initiative, which might be worth it if you want to be a good tracker.

SHIFTER, RAZORCLAW:
Razorclaw Spirit Shifter (PrP):  Free shifts when you're damaged and using your shifting power.

Blurring Claws (PHB):  Thanks to Claw Gloves, you'll probably try to get CA a lot anyways.
.

SHIFTER, LONGTOOTH:
Longtooth Spirit Shifter (PrP):  Your regeneration while using your shifting power is better.  Great for Swarm Druid off-tanks.

Gorebrute Charge (PHB2):  Pile on that extra damage on a charge!



Paragon Tier



General Feats

Armor Specialization (Hide) (PHB):  Bump up your AC, and get rid of your armor check penalty while doing it.  Most Predators won't qualify for this, but every Guardian or Swarm Druid should pick this up eventually.

Lasting Frost (PHB):  A Frost Quarterstaff is your best friend if you plan on exploiting the infamous Frostcheese combo.

Repel Charge (PHB3):  Defender can't punish shift + charge?  No worries, you've got that covered yourself!  OAs interrupt, so by sliding your attacker away with Savage Rend you'll negate the attack.  This also covers the biggest weakness of both Daze and Prone - the fact that melee enemies can still use their action to charge you.  Well, now even if that happens you'll still be rocking the action denial!  Remind your DM not to metagame (the monsters won't know you can repel their charges until they've seen it in action).  This feat is practically mandatory for Polearm builds.

Blood Thirst (PHB):  If you're focusing on dealing damage, consider picking this up.  Combine with Primal Fury if you're a Predator, and with focus-firing tactics your party should be able to provide you with a bloodied target >50% of the time.  Remember that while Primal Fury provides a bonus to all of your attacks, this only provides damage to melee attacks.

Danger Sense (PHB):  Controllers like to go first.  Improved Initiative will give you a higher maximum initiative check, but Danger Sense will get you consistently higher results.  If you have room for them, you can take both.

Defensive Advantage (PHB):  Only Predators need apply (Dex pre-req of 17).  Still, between the status effects that you throw around and your superior mobility (allowing you to easily choose flanking positions), you'll get CA a lot.  You probably already seek it out since you should have Claw Gloves by level 4.  This could mean that you get +2 AC most of the time.


Opportunistic Withdrawal (PHB3): 
As if Druids needed any more mobility?  Seriously though, with feats like Deadly Draw and Vicious Advantage you'll have CA most of the time.  Even without those feats, you'll still probably be flanking a lot so you can get the bonus damage from Claw Gloves.  This feat will see a lot of use.

Reserve Maneuver (PHB2):  Don't like your Paragon Path's encounter power?  Switch it out for something better!

Agile Opportunist (PHB2):  You have some excellent MBA's, so if forced movement is annoying you this would be a good feat to pick up.

Back to the Wall (PHB):  This feat never really appealed to me, but some people like it.  If you like to focus on ranged attacks this might be a good pick; your AC will get a boost, and if an enemy tries to attack you, just Wild Shape and reap this feat's benefits as you tear them to pieces.   You'll appear to be a "squishy caster" in a disadvantageous position (ranged combatants are easily locked down when against a wall).  If your DM isn't metagaming, tactically minded monsters should take the bait.

Expansive Burst (PHB3):  Close and area bursts ignore cover.  Not bad, especially for Guardian builds (because let's face it, they have fewer attractive feats).

Eyes in the Back of Your Head (PHB3):  Situational, because most Druids will have enough mobility to avoid getting flanked in the first place.  Guardians and Swarms may still benefit from this, though.

Fleet Footed (PHB):  Some Predators like to max out their speed, and this is a necessary step in that direction.  Still, most Predators won't need that much speed.  Con Druids (especially Dwarves) would benefit from an extra square of movement.

Improved Second Wind (PHB):  Dwarves looking to fill a feat slot will get some mileage out of this (pick up Vital Form first), but Druids have access to some nice feats that improve your second wind, and they're better than this.  Most races won't get much use out of this until Epic (when they take Wild Surge). 


Psychic Lock (PHB):  Druids don't have a ton of powers that deal psychic damage.  Definitely grab it if you have Call of the Beast though; the attack debuff makes the power much more attractive.

Spear Push (PHB):  Polearm builds will probably want to pick this up in Epic.  Before then, the 15 Str requirement is too steep.

Uncanny Dodge (PHB):  If you wind up flanked a lot this feat is worth considering.

Vexing Flanker (PHB2):  If you have a lot of ranged allies this might be worthwhile.  Rogues will also love you for it, since they can chuck daggers instead of doing the flanking themselves.  Especially valuable for Swarm Druids that can not only off-tank, but can hold an enemy in one spot (Ruthless Killer + Grasping Claws).  Predators might use hit and run tactics a little too much for this to be useful.

Agile Athlete (PHB):  You know the drill.  If you want to turn into a cat that can climb, take stuff like this.  Everyone else will pass.

Polearm Gamble (PHB):  If you have an Alfsair Spear, this only works if you have the Ape's Reach feat (and that feat only works when you're bloodied).  A bit too situational for my tastes.  Besides, 15 Str is a steep price to pay for a Druid in Paragon, though by Epic a starting 13 will turn into a 15.

Paragon Defenses (PHB2):  Take Improved Defenses (Heroic) instead, as it scales.

Two Handed Grasp (PrP):  Even if you wield an Alfsair Spear, High Crit is a weapon property, and thus it won't apply to your implement powers.



Class Feats

Quick Wild Shape (PHB2):  You get Wild Shape, and all the benefits that come with it (like shifting), as a free action (though still useable only once per turn).  Shifting as a free action is incredibly useful, as I found out one day when my Druid was dazed.  Also frees up your minor action for things like sustaining powers.

Bolstered Swarm (PrP):  As if Swarm Druids weren't tough enough already?  Using Wild Shape to enter beast form will net you 5 + Con mod THP (increases to 10 + Con mod at Epic).  One of the first Paragon feats that a Swarm Druid should take.

Pouncing Form (PrP):  One of the best feats a Predator Druid can take.  When you Wild Shape from humanoid to beast form, you shift your Dex mod.  As a minor (or, more likely by now, free) action.  This is just made of the best kind of win.  You can punch through pretty much any front line, and can likely reach any target on the map, with this gem.  Never leave home without it.

Hunting Wolf Form (PHB2):  Mobility is good (Elven Predators will have speed 9 in beast form), and everyone loves to pump up their Perception.  Since perception isn't just visual and auditory, you can make the argument that this feat boosts your sense of smell in beast form.

Fierce Thrasher Form (D382):  Increase beast form push, pull, or slide powers by 1 square.  Since one of the best Druid at-wills, Savage Rend, has a slide effect, you'll get a lot of use from this.  Combine this with Rushing Cleats to turn Savage Rend into a slide 3, and/or allows you to use Alfsair Spear + Polearm Momentum shenanigans without being locked into Rushing Cleats.

Stalking Panther Form (PHB2): 
If you're willing to walk around in beast form whenever you suspect a combat might spring up, this is just as good as Improved Initiative and Still Training: Stealth combined.  Actually, it's better than Skill Training:  Stealth if you're already trained in Stealth, because it stacks.


Vital Form (PrP):  You can use your second wind twice?  Good deal!  Off tanks will want this at some point, and it's Sky Blue for Dwarves (in fact, it'll probably be their first choice of Paragon tier feats).  Anyone else that can use their second wind as a minor action (I vaguely recall some items, and at least one Shaman power, that allow you to) will also want to pick this up earlier rather than later.  Synergizes extremely well with the Epic level feat, Wild Surge.

Warning Guardian (PrP):  Finally, a Guardian Druid feat that doesn't suck!  It's basically Call of the Beast light, but doesn't require an action (just that you're adjacent to a flanked ally).  Your defender will love you for taking this feat, and repay the favor by (most likely) punishing any marked enemies that attack you.  Great against skirmishers that get damage bonuses when they have combat advantage.


Brutal Grappler (D382):  Anyone that you're grabbing grants CA to you.  It's a niche build, but grapplers will benefit from it.  Druids can focus on grappling mostly by taking Latch On (as a Predator) and taking the Coiled Serpent PP.  A few other misc. powers grant grabs as well (including Summon Crocodile).  Non-grapplers have no use for this.

Commanding Form (PrP):  The thing is, if you command your summon in general it won't be able to use its instinctive action.  This is useful for those times when the summon couldn't have used an instinctive anyways (or, more importantly, when it would have used an instinctive action against an ally or yourself), but at this point your Wild Shape is likely a free action so unless you're sustaining a power, the minor action isn't too critical.

Scattering Swarm (PrP):  As a Swarm Druid, you're not a fan of enemy area attacks.  While they're not quite the Achilles Heel that they are for real swarms (you're not vulnerable to them), you still don't get your class feature's DR against them.  With this feat, at least you can get some mobility out of being hit by them.  It could help you spread out so that fewer party members get hit by the next monster's area attack.  It's probably not the highest priority in early Paragon (there are a lot of juicy feats in this tier), but you'll want to pick it up eventually.

Bolstering Guardian (PrP):  It's nice that they tried to give the Guardian Druid some feats that boost their secondary role as leader, but come on.  The ally has to be adjacent to you when you kill something (which is a big enough restriction to begin with), but to top it off the amount of THP is only equal to your Con mod.  Good in a fight against minions, but pretty sad when compared with Bolstered Swarm.

Scuttling Crawler Form (D382):  Pick this up if you REALLY want to make sure that your cat/monkey/giant squirrel form can climb trees.  It's a low priority for most Druids.

Venomous Fang Form (D382):  You don't have that many powers with the poison keyword to begin with.  If you really want to focus on poison attacks, just multiclass Assassin and pick up Venom Hand Master (which lets you ignore poison resistance and immunity).  Much better than ignoring just the first 5 points of poison resistance. 


Racial Feats

DEVA:
Ascendant Lineage (PHB2):  Never waste your racial power again, so you're likely to turn 1 miss into a hit every encounter.

DWARF:
Dwarven Durability (PHB):  It's Durable but better, because you get to add your Con mod to your healing surge value.  Sky blue for Swarm Druids that stray heavily into off-tank territory.

HALF-ELF:
Versatile Master (PHB2):  Regardless of your class, this feat is good stuff.

HALFLING:
Underfoot (PHB):  Sweet, sweet mobility.  The only reason it's not sky blue is because it won't work on medium creatures and requires training in Acrobatics (pick it up as a class skill with your background).

HUMAN:
Action Recovery (PHB):  Situational because it assumes that you're stacked with conditions when you want to use an AP.  Then again, tough fights are usually when you want to blow an AP, and if you're stacked with conditions the fight is probably pretty tough...

SHARDMIND:
Healing Fragments (PHB3):  Handing out free HP to everyone in your telepathy range just for spending a healing surge is definitely a nice perk!

SHIFTER (GENERAL):
Beasthide Shifting (PHB2):  You gain Resist 2 All while under the effect of your shifting racial power.  Umm, yes please!  Especially for Swarm Druid off tanks!




Epic Tier



General Feats

Long Step (PHB3):  Add 1 square to any shift you make.  You can probably shift as a free action by now (minor if you don't have Quick Wild Shape), so this is well worth picking up.

Primal Resurgence (PHB2):  Regain an expended Daily power 1/day when you become bloodied as a free action.  You should take this excellent feat as early as possible.

Second Skin (PrP):  Unfortunately, Predators won't be able to afford a 17 Con pre-req, but all Con Druids should retrain Hide Specialization into this.  It grants a +2 feat bonus to AC (the net gain is 1 AC if you replace Hide Spec.), and a +1 to attack rolls using Primal Fear powers. 

Epic Fortitude (PHB2):  An upgrade to Great Fortitude.  Stacks with Robust Defenses or the Paragon NAD boosting feats.

Epic Reflexes (PHB2): 
An upgrade to Lightning Reflexes.  Stacks with Robust Defenses or the Paragon NAD boosting feats.

Epic Will (PHB2): 
An upgrade to Iron Will.  Stacks with Robust Defenses or the Paragon NAD boosting feats.

Rapid Regeneration (PHB3):  If you're a Con Druid, you'll definitely want to pick this up, as well as Primal Aspect Form.

Superior Initiative (PHB3):  Pretty soon the DM will just assume that you go first automatically...

Unfettered Stride (PHB):  You can ignore difficult terrain!  You'll need training in Acrobatics, though.

Blind Fight (PHB):  Invisible or concealed creatures have absolutely no advantage over you.  Situational, but that's a pretty good benefit!

Epic Resurgance (PHB):  Regaining an encounter power is great, but it's dependent on a random event (critical hit). 

Flanking Maneuver (PHB):  You'll have to pick up Acrobatics training at some point, but being able to move through opponents' spaces is nice, especially for Predators (since they can shift like crazy, and therefore avoid OA's for doing so).

Indomitable Will (PHB2):  Stacks with Epic Will, but not Robust Defenses.  The bonus also applies to saving throws against dazed, dominated, or stunned, which is where the real allure of this feat lies.

Triumphant Attack (PHB):  You inflict a nice debuff when you score a critical hit, and it's save ends.

Opportune Reflexes (PHB2):  Stacks with Epic Reflexes, but not Robust Defenses.  The bonus also applies to saves against ongoing damage, which is a nice perk.

Unyielding Fortitude (PHB2):  Doesn't stack with Robust Defenses.  You do get to apply the bonus to death saving throws, however, meaning that it has its place in feat-light builds.

Robust Defenses (PHB2):  Thanks to Improved Defenses, you don't need this anymore.



[sblock=Class Feats]
Primal Summoning Expertise (PrP):  Lets you use your summons' standard action attacks as a minor action.  It doesn't specify a limit per turn, so get a lot of summons onto the battlefield and enjoy the fine control that you'll have over them.  Powerful summons with dangerous instinctive actions (the Tiger or Lightning Drake, for example) are also a lot more viable with this feat. 

Wild Surge (PrP):  Second Wind as a free action when you use Wild Shape?  Don't mind if I do!  If you haven't picked up Vital Form yet, now's a good time to do so.  Way to take some pressure off the leader.

Primal Aspect Form (PHB2): 
Themes
Note:  I'm not going to review every theme since not all will be appropriate for Druids, and I'm also not going to do an in-depth analysis of the various themes.  There are many great guides dedicated entirely to themes, and I'd prefer to not re-invent the wheel since those authors already put so much time and effort into their guides.  If you want to read more on themes, check out Who am I Really?, This is Who I Am, or Expansion Pack Pasts.  The opinions of the authors differ quite a bit in some cases, so use your best judgement.  The theme section in this guide will hopefully help you narrow down your choices, providing specific advice for Druids (if applicable). 

Dark Sun Themes

Note - Sentinels in particular will find the Dark Sun themes attractive, since they can swap out some uses of Combined Attack for a theme power.  Sentinels that aren't interested in Summoning would also do well to choose a theme with good Daily powers, since the native Sentinel Dailies are generally underwhelming.

Dune Trader:  Sentinels might find this useful (the powers are weapon based).  The starting power provides a decent mobility boost, and the powers offer solid enabling (both attack granting and mobility) with a hint of control.  A lack of enabling is a notable weakness in the Sentinel's repertiore, so if you want to patch that weakness this is a great choice.

Elemental Priest:  All Druids will like this one.  The powers of this theme are mostly conjurations that provide buffs/debuffs, enabled attacks, and sometimes control.  The starting power's attack provides a debuff to both enemy attacks and defenses, making it versatile and solid for nova set-ups.

Gladiator:  The powers generally won't add anything to a Sentinel's repertoire, but the starting feature is solid, and synergizes with the wolf companion decently.

Noble Adept:  Top notch choice for anyone.  Since you'll always use the power point on the starting feature, it's going to be a 1+1d4 buff to a missed attack (much like Heroic Effort or Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes).  If you hate missing, you love this theme.  While Slave's Sacrifice might be useful for spreading damage, by and large you don't need to worry yourself with the powers from this theme.

Primal Guardian:  Off-tanks will love getting a free mark with the starting feature (Wild Shape Druids must use the initial attack in humanoid form, though), and some of the powers are really good.  Even if they are much more useful to Sentinels, which might consider this theme sky blue.

Templar:  Solid option for some extra control, both in the starting feature and additional powers.

Veiled Alliance:  Solid defensive option, great for getting yourself or an ally out of a bad situation.



Dragon 399 Themes

Mercenary (Heroes for Hire):  This one is excellent for Wild Shape Druids.  Stack prone on top of Savage Rend and you have a 1/enc version of the Polearm Druid's main schtick (action denial through proning 1 square away).  Prone + Slow with Grasping Claws as an alternative to Ruthless Killer (or use it before you pick that feat up).  Stack prone on top of any daze attack (Predator's Flurry!!!) for an extremely potent combination. 

Outlaw (Heroes for Hire):  This is another theme that synergizes perfectly with Wild Shape Druids.  Dazing an enemy that you hit with a basic attack is extremely powerful if your basic attack happens to be Savage Rend or Grasping Claws.  Sliding the target 1 square away with Savage Rend prevents charging (if melee), and daze + slow (via Grasping Claws) is perfect for off-tanking or hit-and-run tactics (dazed targets can't make OAs).  Combine with WSG to give Grasping Claws even more bite. 

Animal Master (Heroes of Nature and Lore):  This theme is widely considered to be pretty terrible from a mechanical standpoint, especially at low levels when it's so inconvenient to get a new animal companion.  You might get some out of combat use from the animal (i.e. scouting), but by and large avoid this theme if you're looking to optimize.  The only reason I mention it in this guide is because the fluff is appropriate, and thus many players might be drawn to it.

Order Adept (Heroes of Nature and Lore):  Argent Rain could be useful for Sentinels that didn't pick up an implement at-will, or for Wild Shape Druids who didn't choose an AoE at-will (Fire Hawk, Grasping Claws, and Savage Rend are all great choices so a lack of AoE is valid).  Access to Wizard utilities is pretty spiffy (more options are always great, and Wizards have some good ones), and the Will bonus is definitely appreciated.  Off the top of my head, I can see off-tanks (especially Guardians with Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer) picking up Fire Shield for a significant damage boost.

Wizard's Apprentice (Heroes of Nature and Lore):  Having an extra daze attack sounds like it would be great, especially at low levels.  Perhaps it is for Sentinels, but I'll refer Wild Shape Druids to the Outlaw theme, which allows them to stack daze onto their highly damaging MBA's that already sport good control.  Winged Step is a solid utility (briefly WS into a bird and actually fly), and a free magic item is economical, if nothing else. 

Ordained Priest (Heroes of Tome and Temple):  You get a choice between two starting powers, a weapon and implement version, and both are solid, defensive options. 

Seer (Heroes of Tome and Temple):  Letting your allies know what their next 3 rolls are going to be is extremely powerful, as you can plan to break out the big guns for good rolls and use weaker at-wills when you know you'll miss.  For AoE's, the order at which you declare your attack rolls against each creature will allow you to select which ones are hit and which ones get missed.  Obviously the value of this theme decreases in smaller parties, where you can't use the power as many times per day.  In large parties it's even more valuable. 

Chevalier (Heroes of Virtue):  Immobilize with Savage Rend?  Yes please!!  While immobilization can be achieved through Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer, the fact that you need to remain adjacent to the target eliminates the option for hit and run tactics.  Cheveliers should get action denial out of their power against melee enemies without reach.  +1 to saving throws at level 10 is nothing to sneeze at either (even if it won't stack with other power bonuses).  Even a Sentinel can get some use out of this by using the animal companion to charge (you attack through the companion, so this should work according to RAW, but your DM may have conceptual misgivings about this). 

Guardian (Heroes of Virtue):  This just might be a Wild Shape Druid's best option as far as themes are concerned (especially off-tanks!).  Taking a hit for an ally allows damage to be spread around efficiently, and a free MBA afterwards is just made of win.  The fact that you have fairly high damage basic attacks with innate control makes off-turn attacks like this even better.  This is also an excellent way to set up for World Serpent's Grasp!

Knight Hospitaler (Heroes of Virtue):  Free surgeless healing as an interrupt and an attack buff against the triggering enemy?  Yes please!  Great for Sentinels, or Wild Shape Druids who want to dabble in the leader role. 



Neverwinter Themes

Harper Agent:  Neverwinter's accuracy-buffing theme.  Additional powers become available at levels 5 and 10 (an interrupt damage reducer and a save re-roller).  You can choose these benefits in any order.  Utilities are on the weak side for dailies, and are mostly defensive in nature.

Devil's Pawn:  The starting feature is an encounter power that offers minor auto-damage and a hefty auto-debuff (-2 to attacks and defenses) in a close burst 2.  Heck yes!  At level 5 you get a Diplomacy bonus when dealing with devils and their followers, and at level 10 you gain fire resistance. 

Pack Outcast
:  Though any Druid will appreciate easy CA at 5th level, it's also worth mentioning that this theme
is a clever way to get around the fact that Druids in 4e are split into those with animal companions and those who can shapeshift.  A Sentinel who takes this theme can do it all!

Spellscarred Harbinger:  Pick 1 of 3 effects as your starting feature:  1/enc teleport 2 as a minor action, 1/enc reroll of a failed save, or 1/enc invisibility until the start of your next turn as a minor action.  The last one is the best choice, but the other 2 are solid as well.  At level 5 you can tack dazed onto one of your attacks 1/day, which could be very useful given the amount of proning Druids are capable of.  At level 10 you gain another feature from the starting list, but you can still use only 1 per encounter.

Bregan D'aerthe Spy:  What ranged caster wouldn't want the ability to levitate once per encounter?  Once per day it's even sustainable when you reach level 5.

Uthgardt Barbarian:  The starting feature synergizes very well with the Druid's many close powers, including the 3rd level encounter power Quills.  Allows you to escape enemies unscathed after inflicting status effects in close quarters.



Fey Themes

Fey Beast Tamer:  You can get a companion suspiciously similar to the Sentinel's as the starting feature for this theme.  Its damage is weaker than the Sentinel's companion, but it's something to make OAs with, and the auras are all useful.  Sentinels utilizing a "wall of fur" build will absolutely love this theme, and controller Druids who are interested in an animal companion can now get one.  Choose between a Blink Dog, Displacer Beast, Fey Panther, or Owlbear.  At level 5 you have CA against enemies in your companion's aura, and at 10 you can communicate normally with your companion (and others of its kind).  One of the top-tier theme choices.

Sidhe Lord:  The starting feature gives you a daily summoning power, but it's a weak one.  The Sidhe House Guard only has HP equal to your healing surge value (so it's not a very effective damage sink since you still lose a surge when it dies), can't make OAs, and has no instinctive effects.  About the only think it has going for it is an immediate interrupt that lets it take a hit for you if it's adjacent, so at best it gives you in-combat access to a surge, absorbs any damage beyond bringing it down to 0 HP, and can absorb a nasty status effect.  At level 5 you can get free lodging and servants in a city that recognizes your house's prestige, and at level 10 you can teleport when your Sidhe House Guard does (but seeing as that's an encounter power, the feature is pretty weaksauce).  Perhaps this theme wouldn't seem so bad if Fey Beast Tamer didn't exist.

Tuathan:  This theme offers you a choice between 2 starting features, levels 5 and 10 features, and utility powers at a given level.  The starting features let you roll twice for Athletics or Endurance checks (with the Endurance option also giving you +1 to death saving throws).  The level 5 features buff you after using second wind, and Druids get very nice second wind support later on anyways.  Either enemies can't benefit from cover or concealment UEoYNT, or they don't get CA for flanking you (in fact, you get CA against them).  At level 10 those that chose Tuathan Animal Shape at level 2 can use it to become a bird with a fly speed, and anyone gains several benefits when they roll a 20+ for death saves: you can end any effects on you, you spend a healing surge, and you can stand up as a free action.  Notable utility powers are Faerie Fortune (level 2 encounter power that lets you roll a D20 at the start of combat and use that result at any point instead of rolling a D20) and Faerie Warding Charm (level 10 encounter power that can redirect a melee or ranged attack that hits you onto another creature). 

Unseelie Agent:  The starting feature is Create Shadow-Wrought Weapon, which I can see being useful for some niche builds that want to pick up the occasional weapon attack without maintaining a magic weapon.  Sentinels that don't choose a ranged implement at-will may also like to have a free backup ranged weapon.  By and large though, a Druid won't be using the Shadow Weapon.  At level 5 you learn the secret language of the Unseelie Fey, and at 10 you can roll twice for Intimidate checks (which aren't your forte to begin with).  None of the utility powers are worthwhile; Shadow Cloak is similar but inferior to the Druid's Camouflage Cloak of the same level. 
At-Will Powers
Choosing At-Wills

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A major strength of controllers is versatility, and Druids are particularly versatile.  Your at-wills should reflect that.  Some points to consider are 1) single target vs. AoE, 2) defenses targeted, 3) functionality, particularly avoiding redundancy, and 4) weapon vs implement.  Finally, if you want your beast form to be as effective as possible (even if you plan on staying in humanoid form most of the time), choose a beast form attack that counts as a melee basic attack (MBA).  This means that all Wild Shape Druids should have either Savage Rend or Grasping Claws (both are excellent powers).


  1. One of the main functions of a controller is the ability to target multiple foes at once.  Thus, all controllers have AoE choices in their at-will power lists.  These do less damage per target than single target attacks, but spread over mulitple enemies the total damage dealt becomes very impressive.  Most importantly, AoE's discourage enemy clumping (spread out enemies are less able to focus fire on a given ally), and can take out multiple minions in one round.  You should choose at least one power that is an AoE, or alternatively you can pick up Flame Seed, which replicates AoE functionality (though it's not as effective).  Most AoE's are "caster" type power, though Druids focusing primarily on beast form can pick up Swarming Locusts.

  2. Different monster types (soldiers, skirmishers, artillery, etc.) tend to have different strong and weak defenses (and these are usually consistent among individuals of a given role).  For example, Skirmishers have high Reflex but low Fortitude and/or Will, whereas Brutes and Soldiers have very high Fortitude, but low Reflex and/or Will.  Will is most often the lowest defense across all monsters, but spellcaster types (and other misc. monsters) do have it as their highest defense.  Point being, if you want to be able to accurately target monsters of various roles, you need attacks that target different defenses.  In combat it's perfectly reasonable to ask the DM for clues, i.e. does he look muscular and steadfast but fairly slow and/or dim-witted; was that movement a shift, and does this guy look fairly nimble (but frail); what kind of armor is this monster wearing, etc.  Details like this allow you to infer what a monster's strong and weak defenses are, and once you know that you can target their weak defenses.  Since Druids get 3 at-wills through their Balance of Nature class feature, they're the only class that can have an at-will that targets each of the three Non-AC Defenses (NADs).  I would recommend that most Druids target at least Reflex and Fortitude, since they only have 1 at-will that targets Will and it does no damage.  Note that all of the beast form at-wills target Reflex.

  3. While all of the powers are different, many of them function in similar ways.  For example, Flame Seed, Fire Hawk, Grasping Tide, and Call of the Beast all encourage enemies to stay put (usually through a threat of more damage, though Grasping Tide notably uses a status effect which results in action denial).  Storm Spike and Swarming Locusts encourage enemies to move (to avoid damage and CA, respectively).  Savage Rend, Thorn Whip, and Chill Wind all have a forced movement effect.  Pounce and Swarming Locusts both provide CA.  Fire Hawk and Storm Spike are both single target, high damage ranged attacks.  Grasping Claws and Savage Rend are both Melee Basic Attacks (and thus useable with opportunity attacks (OAs) and on a charge).  If all of your powers belong to the same "functional group," then they're redundant and you are less able to respond to a variety of different situations.  In the end, you'll realize which power is "best" for a given situation (i.e. pick up Rushing Cleats and Savage Rend is better at sliding than Chill Wind) and you'll ignore the others.  Better to be able to perform a wide variety of functions.

  4. The Sentinel build introduces melee weapon powers.  Most Wild Shape Druids will find little use for these powers, but Sentinels have a very important decision to make.  Because their companion's animal attack counts as one of their at-wills, they only get to choose 1 at-will that they can use.  If they want a ranged at-will option they can choose an implement power, but that means that they don't have a good melee attack that they can personally use.  A Sentinel that chooses a weapon attack has no reliable ranged option, however.  Obviously Human is an attractive option for those who want the best of both worlds.  For other races, I personally recommend picking up Fire Hawk or Grasping Tide.  Once you start getting multiple uses of Combined Attack you'll already have a great melee power, and at lower levels the animal companion simply does much better damage than you will personally; by and large you won't miss a weapon at-will if you don't take one.  Grasping Tide and Fire Hawk can also serve to make your companion sticky (which is ideal for an off-tank, especially one that's such a good damage sponge).  Fire Hawk is better for single target damage at range, and makes an especially potent anti-artillery power, whereas Grasping Tide is good for AoE damage and offers superb at-will control.  That said, Tending Strike is also a good power, especially for builds that seek to be a more pure leader or spring Sentinels that don't want to spend resources on an implement (i.e. lock themselves into using an Alfsair Spear or picking up Swordmage M/C). 



At-will Powers

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Implement

Fire Hawk (PrP):  Thanks to this FAQ entry the ambiguity surrounding this power has been officially dispelled.  It works like most of us thought it did, essentially granting "threatening reach" 10 against the target (well, technically you get to make a ranged 10 OA, but the effect is the same).  Devastating against artillery, and useful against enemies that want to move.  Stack on implement damage bonuses and this can be a real powerhouse.

Grasping Tide (PHH):  Arguably the Druid's most powerful at-will.  An area burst 1 that deals decent damage and targets Fort, but if the targets try to move out of the area you get to make a vs Reflex OA that knocks them prone if they hit.  Sure, it requires two attack rolls against two different defenses, but what an amazing effect!  Note that getting knocked prone interrupts the target's move action (i.e. it's wasted), and standing up costs another move action.  Set this up so that the targets are essentially forced to move.  Against melee enemies make sure no one is adjacent to them, and if you cast it on a group of ranged enemies and then park yourself adjacent to them (preferably in the origin square, so that they have to shift out of the area to avoid your OA) they can either eat an OA from attacking, or shift away and risk getting knocked prone next to you (having expended their move action).  Most Druids will probably choose this power.

Magic Stones (HotF):  This is very similar to Hand of Radiance, which is arguably the Invoker's best at-will.  Targeting any 3 creatures in range 10 gives you a lot of flexibility.  It's a solid blaster power even though its damage isn't as optimizable as HoR (which could be built around Radiant or Cold damage), but unlike HoR it offers actual control, since you push each target that you hit 1 square.  Forced movement enhancers will make this a great chessmaster power, and it's even compatible with Alfsair Spear/Polearm Momentum tricks so you can push and prone 3 targets at-will!  Another top-notch choice for the Druid's already impressive repertoire of at-wills. 

Jolt of Lightning (HotF):  The single target damage is respectable, and preventing the target from making OAs is great control.  This really increases your party's tactical options, making it easier to move past melee enemies to get to more desirable targets, to escape, or to flank.  Unfortunately, the fact that it targets Fortitude means that you should be cautious about using it on Brutes and Soldiers. 

Call of the Beast (PHB2):  Solid power; it's an AoE and the only at-will you have that targets Will.  Since the November 2009 Errata, the power officially targets enemies only.  The effect is nice, and has many tactical uses: targets can't gain CA and are punished if they attack anyone but your nearest ally.  Note that you don't count as your nearest ally.  Unfortunately, it doesn't do any damage up front, and the punishment damage doesn't scale well (it's not a damage roll, but a flat 5 + your Wis modifier).  Fortunately, it has the Psychic keyword which means if you take Psychic Lock at Paragon, you can throw around -2 attack debuffs with this.

Chill Wind (PHB2):  Chill Wind's effect is very nice (slide 1), and since it does cold damage it qualifies for the Lasting Frost/Wintertouched combo, but it also targets Fortitude.  I'm not one to claim that Fortitude=bad like many on these forums; in fact, I advocate that Druids should pick at least one at-will that targets Fortitude to use against high Reflex enemies.  However, the usefulness of Chill Wind is most apparant against front line enemies (soldiers and brutes), which happen to have high Fortitude.  This makes is slightly less accurate than preferred.  Overall a solid power, but there are better choices for an at-will AoE.  An excellent pick for Sentinels who want to be able to actually grant attacks, and in an AoE at that!  I'm sure you can convince your melee friends to grab Agile Opportunist (and some cold resistance) if you tell them they'll get to attack more often.

Flame Seed (PHB2):  Can be used as a pseudo AoE, but I wouldn't recommend relying on it as your only option.  It's placement is limited in comparison to other area burst 1's in that it occurs around a central target, so any enemy caught in the zone must be adjacent.  Compare this to Chill Wind, which can catch 2 or more non-adjacent enemies in its area.  Also, since everything hinges on one attack roll against the target, it's an all or nothing power.  The upside is that it creates a zone that enemies can be forcibly moved into if it does hit, and the zone deals auto damage.  As a Druid, you have many powers that grant forced movement.  Note that if you use this on large+ creatures, the zone increases in size (albeit with a hollow center).  Bonus points if you can convince an enemy to move through the zone - including the hollow part - thus triggering its damage twice.

Spirit Briar (HotF/D386):  This power functions nearly the same as Storm Spike, though it's more pre-emptive as you designate a party member to protect instead of simply saying "move or suffer."  This makes it slightly more versatile.  Like most soft control powers (particularly at-wills), the punishment probably isn't enough to discourage an enemy from attacking you or your ally, in which case it basically turns into a single target damage power.  As such, it can't compete with Fire Hawk.  Its punishment was updated in HotF, so it works fine for Con based Druids now.  It does target Will, though, which is a nice change of pace for Druid at-wills.

Storm Spike (PHB2):  Deals respectable single target damage, though its potential isn't as high as Fire Hawk.  The soft control effect encourages enemies to move away, however, whereas Flame Seed, Grasping Tide and Fire Hawk encourage enemies to stay put.   Thus, it occupies a unique niche in the Druid's repertoire of at-will powers (note: its niche is now shared with Spirit Briar, which is a slightly inferior power).  Combine with a sticky defender to really bring on the hurt.

Thorn Whip (PHB2):  A single target pull 2 is largely unremarkable (especially once you boost your Savage Rend to a slide 2 or 3).  Two things save this power from being red: 1) it's a single target vs Fort power and it's the only one you get at-will.  Decent choice against skirmishers, especially if you can actually pull them next to a defender. 2) it's useful for when you need to move an enemy but you can't actually get to them (if they're on a ledge, beyond a chasm, etc.).  If that's the case, then you can probably even hurt them more (falling damage, dangerous terrain, etc.).  Situational, though.  As of the May 2010 errata forced movement can now occur in any direction, so Thorn Whip can officially pull flying enemies toward the ground. 

Beast Form

Grasping Claws (PHB2):  This power can be used as a Melee Basic Attack, so have fun slowing on a charge or an OA!  Predators will find this very situationally useful (at least straight out of the box), since a slowed enemy right next to them has an easy time choosing a target:  you!  Nice if you're off-tanking though, and if you're already adjacent to a target, this can be used to slow them, then you shift away by using Wild Shape and run out of range.  Nice action denial on paper, but hard to coordinate in actual gameplay.  This power also has a ton of potential support, which is detailed in the "combos" section of this guide.

Savage Rend (PHB2):  This is the beast form at-will of choice for any Druid that doesn't plan on off-tanking and abusing Grasping Claws.  Even then, you might consider taking both.  The slide 1 is nice, but it becomes really amazing when paired with Rushing Cleats and/or Fierce Thrasher Form to make it a slide 2 or 3.  Excellent chessmaster power.  Furthermore, use it for an at-will prone if you go with a Polearm (Alfsair Spear) build.  Slide melee enemies such that they fall prone one square away from you or an ally, with you or said ally blocking a straight path to everyone else (alternatively, just knock them down next to a sticky defender).  Impressive action denial.  You can also screw artillery over by knocking them prone next to yourself.  Similar synergy can be achieved using the level 9 Daily Primal Wolf if you don't want to M/C Fighter and/or don't want to limit yourself to an Alfsair Spear.  Finally, Savage Rend also synergizes with Battle Awareness (Fighter M/C feat) and Claws of Retribution (level 13 encounter power): if you hit you interrupt the provoking attack, and sliding the enemy out of range to make the provoking attack causes it to be wasted.

Swarming Locusts (PrP):  Whoa, an at-will AoE that deals 1D8 + Wis mod damage!  Sure, it's a close blast so you put yourself at risk, but as a Druid you tend to do that anyways whenever you shift into beast form.  But wait, there's more: it creates a zone that causes any enemies in it to grant CA!  If the enemies don't want to or can't move, you get multi-target combat advantage.  If you want the targets to move, this might be enough of an incentive to force them to comply (in this way it's similar to the single-target Storm Spike).  Don't let the flavor deter you from choosing this as a non-swarm Druid, for flavor is mutable.  My Predator turns into a spitting cobra when she uses it, which is a perfect fit given that she has the Coiled Serpent PP. 

Pounce (PHB2):  A beast form power that's useable on a charge and grants CA to the next attack made against the target.  The fact that it's not a MBA really hurts this power, making Grasping Claws or Savage Rend an obvious first choice.  Additionally, Swarming Locusts provides a means to throw out CA at-will, but as an AoE (though the CA only applies if the enemy remains within the zone).  Druids that spend most of their time in beast form and don't like Swarming Locusts for thematic reasons might want to consider this, but only if they have a Rogue in the party. 

Weapon

Tending Strike (HotFK):  In general I prefer offensive options to defensive options, especially on at-will attacks.  However, throwing out THP as an effect is pretty nice.  Plus it's the most attractive option if you want a weapon attack.

Dynamic Assault (HotFK):  A generic Wis-based weapon attack, and allows an ally to move as an effect, with an Athletics buff to boot.  This power would be better if the movement was a shift, or if the effect allowed you to slide the ally.  As it stands, allies are still vulnerable to OAs while taking this move action so using it to re-arrange the battlefield can be tricky.  Situationally useful for chasing down mobile opponents, getting dazed allies into position, or bailing allies out of zones/terrain that would otherwise damage them at the start of their turn.  The Athletics bonus may also prove situationally useful, especially if an ally falls into a pit, into water, needs to climb after an enemy, etc.

Reap the Harvest (HotFK):  Smack a dude, and if an ally misses them before the end of your next turn the target will still take a small amount of damage.  The fact that it's an effect doesn't redeem this power; you shouldn't be assuming that your allies will miss.  If you have inaccurate and/or unlucky allies you might be able to make an argument for calling it black.



Heroic Tier Powers (part 1)


Special Note:  Combined Attack
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Sentinels are stuck with this power, so you might as well make the most of it.  Though it lacks leader riders, it's actually a pretty versatile power.  Its uses include:


  1. Striking:  This is its most obvious function.  Flank an enemy (for Summer Sentinels) or attack an enemy in your companion's aura (for Spring Sentinels), and then have the companion attack that enemy as well.  Focus firing is simple, and effective.

  2. Minion-clearing:  Use the initial attack to hit a minion, and then have the animal companion go after a different minion.  You'll want to shift the companion when you take your move action if it's already adjacent to an enemy, since the movement granted by Combined Attack's effect does provoke OAs.  Taking out 2 minions with a standard action isn't too shabby, and they can be far apart thanks to the companion being able to move.

  3. Killing Blows:  Like minion-clearing, finishing off enemies is a situation where spread (as opposed to focused) damage is beneficial.  It's a waste of a striker's standard action to finish off enemies that are nearly dead, and defenders and controllers may be too busy elsewhere.  The goal is to waste as little damage as possible, and 2 attacks that deal moderate damage each is a great way to ensure that happens.  Kill an enemy with the initial attack, and then deal some damage to another enemy with your companion (preferably one that's also near death, so you can get 2 kills).  Another variant of this strategy is that if you miss a nearly-dead enemy with your initial attack, you have another shot at killing it via the companion.

  4. Re-positioning:  If the companion's aura is needed somewhere else (or, for Summer Sentinels, if the bear needs to switch between flanking and protecting via the aura), Combined Attack is a good way to make that happen.  You'll want to shift the companion when you take your move action if it's already adjacent to an enemy, since the movement granted by Combined Attack's effect does provoke OAs.  You can also take advantages of situations that require spread damage at the same time (kill a minion or nearly dead enemy with your attack before re-positioning the companion).

  5. Front Line Breaching:  In many encounters, you want to get a melee presence to the ranged enemies and/or lurkers/skirmishers as soon as possible.  Between getting to move when you take your move action and then getting to move again via Combined Attack, animal companions can cover a lot of distance quickly.  The wolf, with its high speed and aura that benefits ranged allies, is much more likely to employ this tactic.  You may end up diverting forces from the enemy frontline to deal with the companion, or at the very least the squishies will try to take out the companion instead of raining ranged attacks upon the PCs.  It's dangerous work running behind enemy lines with no support, but given that a) companions act as damage sponges and b) it's trivially easy to resurrect them in combat, your party can reap the rewards of this tactic while greatly mitigating the risks.



Summon Natural Ally (Heroic Options)
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Giant Cobra (Guardian):  This will probably be the go-to choice for most low level Guardians.  It deals the highest damage of the level 1 creatures and its attack debuff is universally useful.  Unfortunately, it's a little easy to ignore so be sure to park it next to debilitated foes or team up with a defender, which can both protect it and keep enemies close by.

Desert Hawk (Guardian):  The Hawk deals moderate damage, can shift before it attacks, and can slide foes.  Unfortunately, due to the wording of the instinctive effect it will only attack adjacent enemies and won't shift on its own.  That's a major blow to its effectiveness.  It does, however, have a fly speed which can be extremely useful.  Fly over the head of an enemy that's adjacent to one of your melee allies (preferably a defender) and the hawk can get an instinctive attack in even if the enemy shifts (unless it then charges away).  Situationally useful for chasing after flying enemies (and the hawk is medium, so small PCs can use it as a mount).

Grizzly Bear (Predator):  This guy deals moderate damage and can grab the target.  If it has a creature grabbed it instinctively sustains instead of attacking which is a bummer, but it's also the best choice for locking down an isolated enemy.  Because it won't be attacking as often it's the more situational of the Predators early summons.

Pack Wolf (Predator):  This is very similar to the Summon Pack Wolf daily power, except you don't need combat advantage to knock the enemy prone and it deals a little more damage.  It still deals less damage than the other SNA options for this level, though.  Thanks to the mobility denial that prone provides  it should be attacking instinctively pretty much every round, especially if you position it tactically.  Utilize Nature's Growth to keep enemies from closing in on your allies.  It's probably most efficient parked right next to a defender, however, since the defender will protect it and it will make the defender more sticky.  Synergizes well with Fire Hawk, Grasping Tide and Grasping Claws.



Level 1 Encounter

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Implement

Thorn Spray (PrP):  Sky blue assumes that you're a Predator, for everyone else it's blue.  A close blast 5 is the biggest AoE you can hope to get at this level, and the debuff for Predators (1+Dex mod penalty to all defenses) is huge.  Great nova set up, and if you have allies with AoEs they can start carpet bombing your debilitated foes (great power to use right before an AP).  

Call Forth the Spirit Pack (PrP):  If you can't decide what to take at level 1, default to this.  It's easy to use and doesn't even require the enemies to be clumped (target 1 or 2 creatures in a close burst 5).  It does extra damage against marked targets, and it comes with a prone effect.  If everyone stays either 1 square away from the targets or out of their charging range, it's double action denial.  As is standard for prone attacks, it's useful against artillery (park yourself or an ally next to them) and anyone that the defender is trying to lock down.

Gust of Wind (HotF):  An unfriendly close blast 3 that prones, and you get to push each target 2 squares as an effect.  It's tougher to use than Call Forth the Spirit Pack, but pushing as an effect makes it competitive, especially if you have zones that you want to take advantage of.

Wall of Smoke (HotF):  This power's rating depends on how your DM interprets the concealment rules.  I assume a common sense ruling, that attacking through a square with concealment grants concealment to creatures on the other side, but by strict RAW I believe technically only creatures within concealed squares benefit.  If your DM goes by strict RAW downgrade this to black, but I've never played in a game that ruled that way.  Anyways, to use this power lay the wall on top of enemies that are adjacent to you or allies and slide them to the other side of it.  When they move back up to attack you or your allies, they'll end their turn in the wall and take extra damage.  Plus, any ranged attacks made from the other side of the wall will suffer from a debuff (due to the concealment).  An encounter wall as an effect is pretty nifty at level 1.

Frost Flash (PHB2):  The damage is pretty pathetic unless you're a Guardian, but the immobilize effect is nice to have at level 1.  It's good action denial for those starting out with the class; cast it on a melee enemy and tell everyone to stay away.  Simple as that.  Still, you can get more impressive action denial out of Grasping Tide.

Insect Swarm (HotF):  Unfriendly close burst 1 with solid damage.  An effect makes the area lightly obscured to your enemies, so assuming they attack you they'll be at a -2 penalty to attack.  This is marginally better if you Wild Shape afterwards, since you'll have a good OA to threaten enemies with to discourage them from going after your allies to avoid the debuff. 

Stinging Cloud (PrP):  Short range, but decent damage for an AoE.  Encourages enemies to leave, as it does a decent amount of damage if they stay (though it doesn't scale well).  Combine with prones, immobilizes, daze, etc. to make their situation worse, but most of the time melee enemies will just charge you.  A dazed or prone ranged attacker, however, will have a meaningful choice to make.

Twisting Vines (PHB2):  Ok, so the concept is neat and all but it just sort of falls apart mechanically.  In theory it's a good way to keep multiple targets fixed in one place, but only if they're adjacent to someone on your team (since the monsters can't shift through difficult terrain unless they're elves).  The difficult terrain usually ends up screwing your allies up just as much as the enemies, or if nobody really needs to move it's just a damaging AoE (which you can do just fine with an at-will). 

Beast Form

Scattered Form (PrP):  This is solid damage for a close burst 1, and Swarm Druids won't be afraid to get deep enough into a clump of enemies to catch a lot in the burst.  You also take half damage from all melee and range attacks if you're a Swarm Druid, and that's on top of your class features damage reduction.  Get in there, set off the bomb that is yourself, and then weather the ineffectual hits. 

Cull the Herd (PHB2):  This power is a rarity: a ranged beast form power that targets Will.  The single-target damage is respectable, but the effect (a pull 3) isn't terribly exciting.  Redundant with Thorn Whip, so don't take both.

Darting Bite (PHB2):  No control, and while it can target 2 creatures they both need to be within melee range of you.  It's tempting for a striker-minded Predator to consider this power, especially if they see the shift and want to start playing skirmisher, but hitting and running can be done just as easily with Savage Rend (albeit only against 1 target).

Close to the Kill (PrP):  What?  Why would anybody take this power?  Assuming that you can easily predict when your attack will either bloody or kill an enemy the THP are nice, but otherwise this is just a damage power.  But as you start accumulating damage bonuses for charging, Savage Rend will outperform this power (even Enraged Boar Form brings Savage Rend even with this in terms of average damage on a hit, but the DPR of Savage Rend will be higher because of the +2 bonus to attack).  Encounter powers that underperform at-wills are no good. 




Level 1 Daily

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Implement

Summon Giant Toad (PrP):  I would argue that the toad is the perfect summon.  It instinctively attacks the same creature that it attacked last turn, and with a melee reach of 3 enemies won't be able to shift a square to avoid it.  If it can't attack its original target, it will attack the nearest enemy within 3 squares.  That's a pretty big area on a battle grid, so unless you summoned it on the outskirts of the battle it should have plenty of targets to choose from.  Talk about low maintenance!  It would also never think of harming your or your friends.  Truthfully, I'd pick this over many of the higher level summons.  It helps that summons scale extremely well:  they'll always use your stats and your bloodied value as HP.  A level 1 summon will never be too weak to be useful in high level combat (though its damage dice will be lower).  Furthermore, by showing a preference for low level summons over high level summons, you sacrifice a low level non-summon Daily (which do tend to become outstripped by higher level Dailies; just look at Earth Roots vs. Entangle vs. Entangling Thorns.

Lightning Arc (PrP):  This power targets 1 or 2 creatures (so it's party friendly) and dazes on a hit (half damage on a miss).  The Effect allows you to make a secondary attack, which is an area burst 1 around each primary target.  On a hit a secondary target is knocked prone.  Just delay your turn so that you go right before a melee ally (2 melee allies following your turn, each fighting a separate cluster of enemies, is ideal).  Fire your lightning bolts into the fray, and depending on how many/which enemies are dazed or prone when you're done your melee allies can attack (with CA) as they see fit, and then shift so that they're 1 square away from as many dazed/prone targets as possible.  With minimal coordination you can get some serious (party friendly!) action denial, even if it does require some specific tactics.

Summon Pack Wolf (PrP):  Good enough to pick this over the Toad if you're going for a wolf theme (which seems to be popular for Predator Druids).  If the wolf has CA, it will knock the target prone on a hit.  Allies 1 square away will be safe from a charge, and prone enemies also grant CA.  In this way the wolf can be used to limit the enemy's choice of targets.  If the wolf is the only adjacent opponent and none of your other allies are within charging range, it funnels damage onto the wolf.  Since summons are a good way to mitigate damage (their HP is your bloodied value, but you only lose 1 surge, or half of that, if they die) it may be in your party's best interests for the wolf to be attacked.  Don't forget that when your summons get really low on HP you can dismiss them as a minor action to prevent yourself from losing a healing surge (the result is that all damage that the enemies piled onto the summon is wasted damage, which is almost as good as action denial).   The only thing keeping the wolf from being sky blue in general is that its first instinct is to attack an adjacent prone creature, which may include you or your allies.  So if you're fighting enemies with prone effects, make sure that none of your allies crowds the wolf.  Note that for Spring Sentinels, this power is sky blue for the synergy between it and the wolf companion.  The companion provides CA for the Pack Wolf to consistently knock things prone with, and it has an OA which will punish an enemy for moving once it stands up, improving the stickiness of the Pack Wolf.  The companion's an efficient damage sponge as well, so it doesn't matter which pet the enemy attacks (keep your allies and yourself away, though).  And if the enemy decides to move, well then that means it's taken an Instinctive Attack from the Pack Wolf and an OA from the companion in one round, plus any standard action attacks you or your allies have used.

Earth Roots (PrP):  AoE with ok damage, and a zone that slows any enemy that starts its turn there.  The sustain effect is nice, since you can slide one enemy within 2 squares of the zone into it (so they'll be slowed for their next turn).  You'll be able to consistently keep enemies slowed in a cramped space, especially if you or the party has other forms of forced movement that can knock them into the zone.  Still, slow isn't one of the more useful status effects and if you're spending a minor action each turn to sustain this then Wild Shape faces some steep competition for your minor action.

Faerie Fire (PHB2):  This power looks better on paper than it works in practice, but it's still not useless.  It packs a decent punch, but since the damage is dealt as an aftereffect the enemy is sometimes killed before it goes off.  The slow effect means that it's most useful in the first round of battle, so hopefully your Initiative is high.  Oftentimes the CA is the most useful result of this power's use.  I expect much more from a Daily.  Still, the fact that it targets Will is nice.

Fires of Life (PHB2):  Enemies only AoE that does somewhat paltry damage initially, but deals ongoing damage as well.  When a target saves against the ongoing damage, one of your friends heals some HP.  If a target dies before they save, a friend can heal even more HP.

Fog of Insects (PrP):  Be VERY cautious about throwing this power around, because it's a close burst 3 that does good damage to each creature in burst.  So tell your allies to back up, or try to break through the enemy front line before using this.  If you happen to have high initiative, wading into the ally-free cluster of enemies to set this thing off would be a superb first action for round 1.  Plus it does half damage on a miss, and has an effect that boosts your defenses by 2 for the rest of the encounter.  If it weren't so dangerous for your allies (and therefore situational) it would be a solid blue power.  If you can figure out how to use it effectively and coordinate well with your party, it's definitely a worthwhile pick.

Wind Prison (PHB2):  This power is situational at best.  The single target damage is decent, but the lose-lose situation that it gives to the target is mediocre.  I think the idea is that with some coordination from the party, you can set it up so that the target essentially has to decide on losing actions itself (by staying put with nobody in reach), or causing its friends to lose actions (by proning them all).  Sounds nice in theory, but the target has all of the control in terms of when this goes off.  If the space isn't too cramped, everyone else could move beyond 5 squares.  It also takes a massive amount of cooperation from the party to make the prones effective.

Summon Fierce Boar (PrP):  First level is no time to be messing around with potentially dangerous Instinctive Actions.  Since the boar can either charge or attack an adjacent enemy instinctively, it's likely to get in an attack every single turn.  The downside is that it charges the nearest bloodied creature, meaning that your and your friends piss this guy off just as much as your enemies.  Besides that, its default instinctive action is the charge the nearest bloodied enemy, and only if it can't do that will it attack an adjacent enemy.  This means that the boar is going to be taking a LOT of OAs and will probably go down fast (good riddance, since the creature can turn on you).  The only upside is that when reduced to 0 HP, it uses its standard action attack as an interrupt.  It's attack pushes the target, which means that the enemy attack that originally "killed" the boar is lost unless the enemy has reach.  So until the boar misses with its attack, it can essentially cheat death.  Even this might be problematic, however, as you'll never know when it's best to dismiss the boar to prevent yourself from losing a healing surge, as it's likely to wreak the most havoc when it's on its last leg.

Beast Form

Savage Frenzy (PHB2):  This is a great choice for a Swarm Druid with notions of off-tanking.  Dazed and Slowed (save ends) is a nasty combination.  Most Druids will want to combo this with the feat Staggering Smash; all of those adjacent enemies will conveniently be pushed to 1 square away from you (so don't worry about getting charged).  Furthermore, it's pretty easy for allies to stay out of charging range of enemies that are both dazed and slowed. 

Form of the Primeval Boar (D383):  This is the only decent level 1 Daily from D383.  Temporary HP equal to your healing surge value as an effect is nice; should absorb a few good hits.  The +2 bonus to damage with charge attacks would be nice if it didn't end the next time you use Wild Shape.  Hopefully you don't mind sticking with your beast form for a while.  The single target attack is essentially a higher damage Savage Rend that marks.  Not particularly exciting unless you're a Swarm Druid off-tank.  The combination of little things you get with this power add up to a viable, if somewhat mediocre power.

Form of the Primeval Ape (D383):  The bonus to Athletics only applies while you're bloodied, and you lose it when you use Wild Shape.  Might as well not even exist.  There's also a single target attack which, if it hits, causes a push 3 and you knock the target prone.  Nothing happens on a miss.  Yeah, this power is terrible.

Form of the Primeval Bear (D383):  A +1 bonus to damage in beast form isn't even that great, so why would they make it end next time you use Wild Shape (as opposed to a bonus to attacks in beast form for the rest of the encounter)?  This effect is crap.  The attack is a single target grab, but there's no de-buff to escapes so the grab probably won't last too long.  Very, very sad for a Daily.
 

Whirlwind of Sand (HotEC):  Obsolete at publication.  Just get Savage Frenzy, which slows on a miss and dazes & slows on a hit (even if it is less damage and no difficult terrain). 

Weapon

Shillelagh (HotFK):  Unfortunately this power is limited to hammers, maces, and staffs.  It's an encounter long buff that causes the target weapon to deal a little extra force damage, and more importantly knock things prone on a hit!  This is a great way to lock down enemies regardless of what power the target's wielder uses.  If there's a hammer Warden in the party, he'll love you for this.

Heat Metal (HotFK): 
Limited to axes, flails, light blades, heavy blades, picks, and spears.  This is a solid offensive option, but make sure you use it early.  Unfortunately the extra damage is limited to once per round, so multiple attacks and action points won't benefit.  Pity, as it would be blue otherwise.


Vexing Overgrowth (HotFK):  A weapon-based burst attack that deals impressive damage for this level, 1/2 damage on a miss, and an encounter long effect that causes adjacent enemies to grant CA.  It's a good incentive for a Wild Shape Druid to wield some type of weapon, since they can gain a lot of extra damage for having CA.  For Spring Sentinels it's not quite as good, since the Wolf already has an aura that does this.


Level 2 Utilities

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Verdant Bounty (PrP):  An improved Obscuring Mist.  It's an encounter power, so the tradeoff is that it only lasts one turn and can't be sustained.  However, it only costs a minor action to cast and the zone is heavily obscured (-5 penalty to attacks against non-adjacent creatures within it, so it REALLY screws over ranged enemies) instead of lightly obscured.  Note that with heavily obscured squares, even if an enemy engages you in melee they still take a -2 penalty to their attack.  Have everyone stay at the edge of the zone so that the enemy doesn't gain the same benefit. 

Barkskin (PHB2):  A big AC buff for 1 turn for Con Druids, and it can be used on allies as well.  This power is guaranteed to come in handy in every combat encounter, unless you forget you have it.

Bear's Strength (HotFK):  Boring, but effective.  You'll basically cast this on someone after an extended rest and they'll be buffed for the rest of the day.  A nice damage buff for anyone who uses Strength as a primary ability.

Cat's Grace (HotFK):  Not quite as strong a choice as Bear's Strength, but it's more universal since anyone could benefit from a Reflex and Initiative boost.  Out of combat, it will certainly prove useful whenever stealth is required.

Dust Eddy (HotEC):  Partial concealment is a solid enough defensive buff, and then you BLIND any enemies in the aura if you can lock them down (hint - at minimum you should have Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer).  The blind only lasts until the end of your next turn (so the enemy won't be blind during its own next turn, unless you pull some delaying cheese which I'm not even sure works by RAW), but at the very least it'll screw over that enemy's OAs and Immediate Actions.   

Seed of Healing (HotFK):  Create a seed and give it to whoever tends to require the most healing.  Allies with few healing surges are ideal, since you spend a surge when the seed is created and you have plenty.  It works like a healing potion, except heals a good deal more (10 + your surge value).  Synergizes well with Swift Recovery (spread that high-value surge around!).

Sudden Bite (PrP):  Sometimes, for whatever reason (shift or to use a ranged evocation), it's in your best interest to use Wild Shape while in the fray.  This power lets you not have to worry about your crappy humanoid OA.

Warding Wind (PrP):  The fact that it's an interrupt means that as soon as the DM asks "does an X hit your AC (where X=your AC or your AC + 1)?" you can negate the attack.  Similar to the Wizard's shield, but with a smaller bonus (but one that applies to all defenses instead of just Reflex and AC) and a slide effect if the attack misses (which it will unless your DM is a punk that doesn't tell you what he rolled for the monsters).  A solid defensive choice for any Druid, but especially Predators who won't get much use out of Barkskin.

Elk's Fortitude (HotFK):  More situational than the other day-long buffs.  The Fortitude bonus is nice, but the extra healing surge will probably not be needed unless you have a really squishy ally that tends to get into trouble a lot.

Ferocious Transformation (PrP):  You get free CA, and for almost all Druids this means that you'll do more damage in addition to the accuracy boost.  It's an Immediate Reaction so the shift won't save you from the damage, but how much can you expect from a 2nd level encounter utility?

Fleet Pursuit (PHB2):  Not a bad option for slower races that want some additional mobility.  Elven Predators that take this are basically The Flash, at least for an encounter.  Still, needing that much speed is pretty situational.


Lesser Restoration (HotF):  Seed of Healing provides more healing and allows for some re-distribution of party surges, but this grants a saving throw in addition to healing, giving it a slightly different niche.

Obscuring Mist (PHB2):  Annoy ranged enemies, or place the edge between two opposing fronts: your allies gain concealment by staying just within the mist, but they can still attack enemies outside of it without penalty.  Unfortunately, it's a Standard Action and a Daily power, but the fact that it can be sustained is a plus.

Resist Energy (PrP):  This just strikes me as the type of thing that "spellcasters" are supposed to do, and so I can see how it might be appealing to some players.  It's situational so despite being an encounter power it won't see much use, but your party will thank you the next time you fight a dragon.

Skittering Sneak (PHB2):  I'm honestly not sure how to rate powers like this.  They're generally not very useful in combat, but for a stealth/infiltration mission they're just what you need.  Nobody will be suspicious of a tiny little mouse running around.

All Encompassing Nature (D386):  This power is just so darn situational.  Even in a skill-heavy campaign, there's probably someone else in the party that has Arcana and Religion covered (and Dungeoneering should already be solid, as it's based on Wisdom).  Best case scenario is that once in a blue moon you can come to the rescue when someone fails a monster knowledge check for Arcana. 

Form of the Sprinting Elk (HotF):  Uhhhh, ok.  A daily polymorph that gives you +4 to speed and doesn't let you attack, manipulate objects, etc.  This type of thing belongs within the realm of mounts and/or rituals, if it even comes up in-game at all.


Level 3 Encounter

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Implement

Wind Wall (HotF):  A friendly area wall 8 as an encounter power?  Sign me up!  Enemies you hit can be slid 1 square, so with forced movement enhancers this can become a pretty respectable chessmaster power (and will be an attractive choice for polearm builds).  It's also a phenomenal anti-artillery power, as it grants superior cover against ranged attacks made against AC or Reflex (which is most of them).  This power debuffs ranged enemies despite the fact that you'll be attacking (and sliding) the melee guys, so you'll likely be contributing to focus fire while at the same time controlling another set of enemies.  The action economy of this scenario is very favorable. 

Quills (HotF):
  Solid, friendly damage in a close burst 2.  Each target is slowed as an effect, which in most cases is going to result in enemy attacks being funelled onto you as opposed to denying actions.  However, it is possible to get a lot of mileage out of this power.  If the targets are in or behind your Nature's Growth zone you can walk a short distance away if no enemies are adjacent to you and they probably won't be reaching anyone.  For Protectors with Wild Shape this is sky blue because even if targets are adjacent you can shift away (with Wild Shape) and then move.  This tactic is also effective (if not quite as good)
with just Wild Shape and no Nature's Growth. 

Thorn Castle (PrP): 
This power has a lot going on with it, which makes it seem kind of schizophrenic to me.  An AoE that slows seems useful against melee enemies during the first round of combat, but the power's effect creates a zone that grants cover to any creature attacked through it, which makes it seem more like an anti-artillery power.  The party hides behind the zone to gain cover from artillery, and you use as many forced movement powers as possible to knock melee enemies into the zone (they'll take damage for entering it).  So you can either use the slow to hinder melee enemies that are far off and have the zone be useless, or take advantage of the zone and have the slow probably be useless.  I guess its selling point is diversity: you have a tool for two very different situations.  A good choice for Guardians, as it protects your allies (you're a secondary leader, after all), and provides a damaging zone that synergizes with your many forced movement powers.

Tundra Wind (PHB2):  A solid choice for anyone, but especially nice for Guardians, who can use it to push enemies all over the place.  Try to put the enemies wherever it would be bad for them to be prone, even if that means just 1 square away from you (adjacent to a Fighter would be nice too).


Call the Crows (HotF):  A bland soft-control area-denial power.  Because secondary modifier damage won't be enough to alter the behavior of most enemies, this will functionally be a blaster power most of the time.  Force damage is useful against insubstantial enemies, though.

Ironbreaker's Claws (PrP):  An AoE that does decent damage, and if you hit and then switch to beast form before your turn ends, any enemy that hits or misses you takes 5 damage.  Disincentive for every enemy on the board (even ranged) to attack you is nice (especially for Predators who don't normally get these kinds of powers), but the damage doesn't scale.  Useless for Sentinels, who lack Wild Shape.

Call Lightning (PHB2):  I remember really liking this spell in 3rd edition.  No longer.  AoE damage equal to Swarming Locusts, but instead of a CA-granting zone you get an attack-debuffing zone (plus enemies that leave take 5 thunder damage).  This has a net defensive effect, and generally speaking net offensive powers (like Swarming Locusts) are more worthwhile.  The punishment for leaving the zone does make this slightly better than Swarming Locusts, but shouldn't 3rd level encounter powers be obviously better than at-wills? 

Beast Form

Predator's Flurry (PHB2):  The default option for most Predators at this level.  Dazing two targets is nice, especially since they needn't be clumped (so long as they're within a number of squares equal to yoru Dex mod as a Predator, or 2 for everyone else).  I'll take this over an AoE daze like Color Spray any day.  Color Spray has the potential to hit more targets, but Predator's Flurry is more party friendly and you have a more flexible choice of who you want to daze.  This is also a good "sticky" power for Swarm Druid off-tanks.

Flowing Swarm (PrP):  Gives Swarm Druids some mobility, and moving through enemy squares (and doing extra damage while you're at it!) is always fun.  A good choice for AoE spammers.

Roar of the Unbowed Beast (PrP):  A Druid power that marks!  I would have preferred it to be a Swarm power instead of a Guardian one, but then again the punishment for ignoring the mark is forced movement, which is one of the Guardian's specialties.  Besides, it's still pretty effective in the hands of a Swarm Druid.  It also conveniently targets Will (which is typically a low defense).


Battering Claws (PHB2):  It's Savage Rend x 2 with one extra square of movement.  An excellent choice for Polearm Druids, since you can knock 2 targets prone and choose where they fall (make it 1 square from you).

Feral Harrier (PrP):  The damage is only ok, but the shifts before and after make it seem like the perfect skirmisher power.  It fits a striker-focused Predator's playstyle pretty well, and makes it easy to hit and run, but with a little creativity you can already do this with better powers that offer more control.  Take Predator's Flurry, for example.  Use it when an enemy has engaged you in melee, run away from that enemy and attack someone else, then shift away from them using Wild Shape, and finally use your move action to run away.  Even Savage Rend lets you run away after you hit someone with it; slide them away from you and just use a move action without worrying about shifting.  That's why I like to think of Feral Harrier as a newbie skirmishing power that takes up a valuable power slot that could be used to gain some more control.


Level 5 Daily

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Implement

Vine Serpents (PrP):  Restrain is an excellent condition to inflict, especially as an AoE.  It's like immobilize, but the target also grants CA, can't be freed with forced movement, and takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls.  The power also creates a zone as an effect that doesn't need to be sustained (lasts until the end of the encounter)!  Any creature within the zone that leaves it or attacks a creature outside of it takes 5+Wis mod damage.  Since Druids excel at using forced movement, enemies will be spending a lot of time in that zone (and no matter what they do they take damage--unless they opt not to attack). 

Wall of Thorns (PHB2):  Similar to the Wizard's Wall of Fire (a popular 9th level Daily), but 4 levels earlier and without the autodamage for being adjacent.  Can be sustained with a minor action.  Enemies take damage (and ongoing damage) if they enter the wall's space or start their turn there, and entering a wall square requires 3 additional squares of movement, making it an effective barricade.  Extremely deadly if you set it up such that enemies are forced (or locked) into the wall's space for multiple rounds.  I've seen this power trivialize difficult encounters where the party is on the defensive at a choke point.  I've also seen it be used to completely bisect a room full of minions (which obviously can't pass through it), essentially turning 1 encounter into 2 easy ones.  It won't be useful all the time, but when it is, it really shines.

Summon Fire Beetle (PrP):  This is your first summon with an AoE Instinctive Action, and it's a comparatively forgiving one.  The beetle uses its close blast 3 against as many enemies as it can.  Note that it won't avoid hitting allies; if an ally is in a big clump of enemies the beetle won't hesitate to inflict some friendly fire.  Fortunately, it won't specifically go after groups of allies.

Summon Guard Drake (PrP):  One of the Druid's few defensive summons.  Essentially, it stands next to whoever you tell it to guard and attacks adjacent enemies that attack its charge (via an immediate interrupt).  As its Instinctive Action it moves so that it's adjacent to the creature it's guarding, automarking any adjacent enemies at the end of its movement.  This means that it's really convenient to have the Drake guard yourself, because where-ever you move during your turn, the Guard Drake will follow before any enemies have a chance to attack you (provided you don't move further than its speed).  Note that if it's guarding sedentary allies, adjacent enemies can usually just shift and then attack, ignoring the Drake's punishment (but still taking the mark de-buff).  Thus, against tactical-minded DMs, combine with tactics that force enemies to charge or immobilize them.

Summon Shadow Ape (PrP):  A summon with a dash of leader.  When the Ape hits an enemy, all creatures gain concealment from that enemy (including the Ape).  It instinctively attacks an adjacent creature, or moves up to its speed to an enemy no one is adjacent.   Unfortunately, it seems like the Ape is fairly easy to run away from so you might not want to just "fire and forget."  Flank the target (or have an ally do so), or use status effects to impair the target's mobility (prone, daze, immobilize, and restrain work the best).  It may take some coordination to live up to its full potential, but at least it won't attack your friends.

Summon Stalking Panther (PrP):  This summon is all about damage, but its Instinctive Action is actually kind of a pain.  It charges the nearest enemy that has no creatures within 2 squares of it, or it attacks an adjacent enemy if it can't do that.  This means that enemies can clump together to avoid its charge attack (silver lining: you could take advantage of this by spamming AoE's), and the panther will take a lot of OAs, reducing the length of time that it will be on the playing field.  Set it loose on some artillery for best performance. 

Beast Form

Clinging Drones (PrP):  Another reason why Swarm Druids can make actual defenders jealous.  The power's effect is that for the rest of the encounter, enemies can't shift while adjacent to you.  The blast itself is fairly good too, especially against skirmishers.  This power is a skirmisher's nightmare.

Roar of Terror (PHB2):  Blast 5 does more damage per target than some of the single-target powers at this level (*coughPrimalWolverinecough*), targets Will, and has a daze (save ends) effect.  Psychic damage means that it will qualify for Psychic Lock in Paragon (which is really only worth picking up if you have Call of the Beast as one of your at-wills).  Dazing on a miss only sweetens the deal.

Primal Spider (D382):
 
This is a decent power in a vacuum, but it's overshadowed in every way by Vine Serpents.  Restrain is better than immobilize, immobilize on a miss is better than slow on a miss, and an encounter long damaging zone (that doesn't need to be sustained) is better than slowing on each hit with a beast form attack.

Form of the Primeval Wolf (D383):  A +2 bonus to damage when you have CA is nice, but unfortunately it ends the next time you use Wild Shape.  Ugh.  The single target power is actually not bad, if for no other reason than it's a free action that can be used whenever you hit with a beast form attack.  The free action attack does decent damage and knocks the target prone, making it a decent nova attack.  Of course if you're going for damage you'd get more out of a summoning power, and the Pack Wolf (at level 1) even prones (and can do so more than this power).  This power just barely escapes being red, largely because the other 2 level 5 Dailies from D382 are just that much worse. 

Hobbling Rend (PHB2):  Slowing is almost always most useful in the first round of combat, before distant melee enemies have gotten the chance to act.  Having a Daily that slows 2 enemies from melee, regardless of the fact that it's save ends, just doesn't strike me as being the most intelligent use of a Daily power slot.

Primal Wolverine (PHB2):  Pitiful damage for a single target Daily spell, even if it does have ongoing 5 to go with it.  Also causes any enemy that makes a melee attack against you to take Con mod damage while in beast form for the rest of the encounter.  Just not worth a 5th level Daily in my opinion.

Form of the Primeval Lizard (D383):  Like all of the Daily powers from D382, the effect (+2 to attacks with OAs) is not only minor for a Daily power, but ends the next time you use Wild Shape.  Using Wild Shape often in combat is almost always more effective than remaining in one form the whole time (though Swarm Druids will need to be in beast form to benefit from their damage reduction).  The single target attack slows (bad status effect) until the end of your next turn (not even save ends for a Daily!?!?!), and if the target moves or shifts into a square that's not adjacent to you it takes damage equal to your Con mod.  Pathetic punishment for a Daily, and it only "improves your stickiness" (if it can even be called that) for 1 round!  Absolute and utter garbage. 

Form of the Primeval Spider (D383):  The +1 bonus to saves is nice, but alas, it ends the next time you use Wild Shape.  The attack is a single target immobilize (save ends).  Is this power really at the same level as Vine Serpents?

Weapon

Destructive Harvest (HotFK):  Provides an encounter-long damage buff for allies adjacent to the target.  Use this on a big meatshield to eat through those HP faster.  Good party-wide nova setup, and a perfect anti-solo power.

Life Blood Harvest (HotFK):  Great damage, and as an effect an ally regains HP as if they spent a surge.  Straightforward, but effective.

Brutal Erosion (HotEC):  This power is largely dependent on luck because Druids don't have access to a whole lot of save debuffs (and if you're a Sentinel, why would you invest in the ones that you can get?).  The penalty is mostly going to be insignficant, and most enemies will be dead before they fail enough saves for it to matter.  The only reason it's not red is because the debuff is both offensive and defensive.

Hunger of the Land (HotFK):  Single target lockdown with some CA to taste.  Not bad in a vacuum, but completely overshadowed by Vine Serpents.

Heroic Tier Powers (part 2)


Level 6 Utility

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Camouflage Cloak (PHB2):  Works on you, or a friend.  Normally invisibility ends when you attack, but not so for this power!  Cast it before you attack for free CA, and you can even use ranged attacks in melee (when you're invisible you don't provoke OAs).  Then you get a nice little defensive buff for the next round (any enemies that attack you take a -5 penalty), and since the invisibility ends at the end of your next turn, you can get CA for a second attack!  Plus this is an ENCOUNTER power!  The only downside is that whoever is invisible can't move, or they lose the invisibility.  Small price to pay if you ask me.

Eagle's Splendor (HotFK):  All day buff for anyone with Charisma as a primary ability, as it buffs attack rolls.  The Will bonus and skill/ability check buffs are icing on the cake.

Leaf Wall (PHH2/HotFK):  Set this up to create a substantial terrain advantage for your party.  Allies within it have concealment, so it works against both ranged and melee enemies.  Enemies that enter the wall's space or start their turn there grant CA until the end of their next turn.  Use forced movement to cause as many enemies as possible to grant CA by moving them to the wall.  Just be sure that you place it in a spot where your allies will want to spend the vast majority of the encounter.

Serpent's Cunning (HotFK):  Buffs Int-based attack rolls, which is powerful in its own right.  Also provides training for a day in one skill of the target's choice, which could definitely prove useful outside of combat.

Swarm Dispersal (PrP):  This power makes a lot more sense now that you can use it in beast form (thanks to the revised Wild Shape rules).  Any build that spends an appreciable amount of time on the front lines will find this useful.  Predators can use it to mitigate their frailty, and Swarm Druids can negate silly amounts of damage by combining this with their class feature.

Black Harbinger (PHB2):  For the duration of the encounter you can use Wild Shape to turn into a bird and fly.  You can't attack while in that form, but it's still a significant boost to your mobility.  Can't reach archers up on a ledge?  Fly up there and tear them apart in melee next round!  Need a sniper spot where you'll be safe from all melee foes?  Fly up to one! 

Blood Frenzy Howl (D389):  The burst size means that you're almost guaranteed to help all of your allies, which adds up to a lot of THP handed out.  This power gets bonus points for helping Druids be better leaders, the secondary role that they're currently least adept at filling (which is odd, since 3.x Druids were basically leaders).  The fact that this power is triggered on a critical hit, and thus you can't control when the THP are distributed, prevents it from being sky blue.

Rebuking Thorns (PrP):  If you use this at the beginning of an encounter where you plan to be in melee a lot, the end result is a lot of damage.  It's like the Fighter's Rain of Steel, but better because it's a fixed number instead of 1[W].  Also, props for allowing you to use Con or Dex for this.  It's always appreciated when a power serves all builds equally well. 

Rodent's Agility (PrP):  An encounter power that lets you move 5 squares, through enemy spaces, without provoking OAs?  Sign me up!  Now works in beast form, since Wild Shape has been revised.  That's probably when it'll be most useful, too.  Excellent for Swarm Druids that like wading into the enemy ranks and, standing far enough away from their friends, unleashing a devastating close burst or blast. 

Chant of Sustenance (PHB2):  This is an interesting power, as you get to move zones that you normally wouldn't be able to move.  It will allow you to get some extra damage out of them if enemies that start their turns there take damage, and in general it allows you to respond to the changing conditions on the battlefield.  You also auto-sustain on the round that you use this.  Unfortunately, this is a Daily and the zone re-arranging is only a one-shot deal.  I could see this making a BIG difference in the occasional encounter, but most of the time it won't really be that useful.

Verdant Surge (HotF):  Once per day you gain a second use of Nature's Growth in an encounter.  Doubling the amount of difficult terrain you can generate is certainly a solid benefit. 

Creeping Vines (PrP):  Can we say situational?  Still, it's an encounter power so your party might find something creative to do with it?  The only thing that keeps it from being red is the fact that pit traps are not uncommon, and this will get your allies out quickly. 

Meld Into Stone (HotF):  A daily power that lets you hide in a stone object so your allies take even more damage?  Why, exactly?  If you use this after you've attacked and then use a minor action to end the effect at the beginning of your next turn you've kept yourself safe for a round, but if that's the best way to use this it might as well be an encounter power that just lasts until the start of your next turn (it would then be similar to Feywild Sojourn but without the teleport effect).

Nature's Stride (HotF):  Allowing your allies to ignore difficult terrain will be more useful for Protectors in the Circle of Renewal, but by and large this is a situational daily buff that will depend on how your DM designs encounters.  There's just too much competition at this level to recommend this.

Owl's Wisdom (HotFK):  Low light vision is probably useless unless nobody in the party has it.  You're therefore trading a utility power for a +1 to Will (and a bonus to Wis skills), which is a pretty bad deal.

Stalker's Eyes (PHB2):  Eh, your perception is already pretty good, and many races already have low light vision.  This power is red for them, and close to it even for races without low light vision.  The fact that it's a Daily makes it very weak.

Raise the Stones (HotEC):  This power is really thematic so I want to like it, but come on!  A kind-of Wall that's fairly easy to climb over (Athletics seems to be a commonly trained skill for monsters) is already at a disadvantage, but the fact that it's a standard action really kills this. 

Treetop Lurker (D382):  Ummm, really?  Creeping Vines is just better than this.  It may not last as long, but at least it's an encounter power and lets your allies climb as well.



Level 7 Encounter

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Implement

Charm Beast (HotF):  This is one of the best powers in the Heroic Druid's arsenal, and it's even better considering level 7 used to be terrible for Druids.  An encounter dominate at level 7.  'Nuff said.  Wait...actually, there's more.  There's a miss effect to boot (the target is dazed). 

Grasp of Winter (HotF):  Single target damage and restrain as an effect.  Some multi-target or area control would be really nice at this level, but the effect-based control makes this a good power despite being single target.

Swarm of Scarabs (HotF):  Decent sized blast and the damage isn't too shabby, but it's unfriendly.  A zone is created as an effect that causes creatures to grant CA while inside, and if they end their turn there they take some damage (Con or Dex mod).  This will mostly be a blaster power.

Tremor (PHB2):  Moderate single target damage from range with a prone effect.  Enemies adjacent to the target are also knocked prone.  It's not hard to coax some action denial out of this power if you cooperate with your allies (just tell them to stay 1 square away to prevent charging).  If an ally can help you clump enemies via some forced movement, all the better.


Plague of Locusts (PrP):  Damage isn't terrible if you're a Swarm Druid, and it targets 3 creatures (which means it's party friendly).  CA is nice since it's generally useful to everyone, but I expect more impressive control at this level.  The short range also kind of sucks. 

Swirling Winds (PHB2):  Poor single target damage for this level with a sub-par pull effect (albeit to multiple enemies).  The only use for a pull 1 would be to peel enemies off of your squishy allies.  You can already do that with Savage Rend, Chill Wind, Thorn Whip or Storm Spike (to some extent). 

Wind of Blades (PrP):  An AoE that targets Will is nice, since you don't get many of those.  Enemies can get around dealing damage to their friends by just shifting away from them though.  There's absolutely no punishment for moving.  A slight annoyance to creatures like Hobgoblins who like to keep their friends close, but otherwise it's a waste of an effect.

Beast Form

Blood Spray Bite (PrP):
  Solid damage, and if you're a Predator you'll be pushing a LOT of creatures (just don't target soldiers or brutes with the initial attack, as it's vs Fortitude).  Remember that you don't have to push in a straight line forward; as long as each square moved is further away from you, you can push different enemies in converging trajectories to clump them (into a zone, or to set them up for an AoE).  An excellent power for re-shaping the battlefield.

Latch On (PHB2):  Solid damage, and you grab the target.  If you're a Predator, they gain a penalty to escaping the grab equal to your Dex mod (for other builds this is purple).  I've heard a lot of arguments against this power because it locks the most fragile of the Druid builds down in melee.  This is true, and if used recklessly it could easily end up doing more harm than good.  The key is to lock down enemies that don't want to be in melee.  Ideally, you'll be grabbing artillery, ranged lurkers or controllers (that have ranged attacks as opposed to close attacks), allowing you to smack them with an OA every time they attack.  And if they take two move actions to try to escape you've done some quality action denial (and with the hefty debuff, it will usually take them a while to escape).  If you're going to use this against a melee enemy, skirmishers that get bonus damage for having CA or for moving are the best targets because you'll deny them these bonuses.  NEVER use this on soldiers or brutes!

Poison Sting (PrP):  This is a decent sized burst, but make sure your friends are clear of it.  Encourages enemies to stay put, which isn't bad if you're trying to off-tank.  Still, the punishment doesn't seem like that severe a deterrent.

Serpent's Hold (D389):  Check it out, it's Latch on for Guardians.  Except without a penalty to escape the grab, so don't expect to hold on to the enemy for very long.  This disadvantage is somewhat compensated for by being able to move the target when you sustain, and the fact that you can shift 2 squares before making the initial attack.  Still, if you grab a target you probably want to keep it locked down, and Latch On just does that better (at least for Predators). 

Feast of Fury (PHB2):  Remember back at level 1 when I recommended against Darting Bite?  Pretty much the same deal here.  This does more damage (but only barely, even though it's 6 levels higher), but the 2nd attack will either do less damage (if the first misses) or more damage (if the first hits).  Oh, except that it doesn't have a shift effect like Darting Bite did.  Just don't take it.


Level 9 Daily

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Implement

Summon Crocodile (PrP):  This summon's Large size could be an advantage, allowing it to block up a hallway or just resulting in it potentially being adjacent to more creatures.  The attack is nice because when it hits, the Croc grabs (and the enemy takes a -3 penalty to escape).  Not quite as good a debuff as Latch On, but it's still a 15% lower chance of escaping.  And even if the target escapes (which burns its move action), as long as it stays adjacent to the Croc it will get attacked again instinctively (and grabbed again).  Nice damage, because it gets to attack when it sustains the grab (which it does instinctively).  Quality summon with good control, low maintenance, and isn't a danger to you or the party.

Entangle (PHB2):  Excellent combat opener.  The area is large, and it's a mass immobilize.  The effect creates a zone that lasts until the end of the encounter (no need to sustain), and any enemy starting its turn within the zone is slowed.  This is great if you hve World Serpent's Grasp.  Even if you miss with the immobilize, the slow might still result in mass action denial.  When you're in beast form within the zone, your attacks can score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20!  This power is sky blue if you have some combination of Vicious Advantage, Claw Gloves, Defensive Advantage, and/or a Staff of Aversion.

Sunbeam (PHB2):  Enemies only Area burst 1 that targets Will.  This makes it accurate, and safe to use.  On a hit, the target is blinded (save ends), which is the equivalent to a -5 attack debuff and the target can't make OAs.  Plus, it grants CA.  The damage is done as an aftereffect.  Unfortunately, what keeps this power from being Sky Blue is the fact that on a miss it just does damage.  It would be better if it blinded until the end of your next turn, but I guess we can't have it all.


Summon Great Eagle (PrP):  You could do worse than this.  Its standard action is a flyby attack, and it gets a +4 AC bonus against OAs.  When it hits, the enemy grants CA.  It will instinctively attack an adjacent enemy, and if it can't do that it moves adjacent to an enemy (which causes the enemy to grant CA).  Basically, it's going to provide CA every turn that it's out.  Blue if you have a Rogue in the party, since it will let them attack from range without losing Sneak Attack.  Plus, thanks to the Claw Gloves that you've almost certainly picked up ages ago, you pack quite a punch yourself when you have CA (if you charge, you'll be even more accurate and do even more damage).  This makes it the summon of choice for striker Druids at this level.

Death's Bounty (PrP):  What an odd power.  Decent single target damage (cold damage qualifies it for Wintertouched/Lasting Frost), and the effect creates a burst 2 zone centered on the target whenever it drops to 0 HP.  Use it on weaker opponents to get the zone sooner rather than later, but either way you don't have complete control over where the zone appears (forced movement can help, though).  The zone lasts until the end of the encounter and doesn't need to be sustained.  It's difficult terrain, and any creature that ends its turn there is immobilized until it escapes (using your defenses).  The problem is, it takes a lot of work to ensure that an enemy will end its turn in the zone (even if it is difficult terrain), and without a debuff to escaping it could be trivial depending on whether the target uses Acrobatics or Athletics (you'll either have a low Fortitude or Reflex).

Pain from Perseverence (HotF/D386):  Weak damage for a Daily of this level (plus psychic for a vs Fort attack?!?!).  Situationally useful for punching a hole in an annoying resistance (if, for example, your DM puts you up against a White Dragon to foil Frostcheese).  The only reason it's not red is because it's also an encounter-long Arcane Admixture for all of your Druid powers.  Nice if you want to use Frostcheese yourself on a greater variety of powers, and it makes the Storm Speaker PP (if you were unfortunate enough to choose it) more useful for an encounter.

Summon Proud Bear (PrP):  This bear has nothing to be proud of.  The instinctive action ruins this summon:  you either attack an adjacent enemy, or move adjacent to an enemy.  Why isn't the Bear using its reach?!  Even the Toad (at level 1) uses its reach instinctively!

Beast Form

Primal Wolf (PHB2):  A single target prone where the target has to pass a save before it can stand up.  Not bad.  The effect, however, is glorious.  Whenever you hit an enemy with a melee attack while in beast form you knock them prone (you also get a +2 bonus to attack rolls against prone targets).  This power has excellent synergy with Savage Rend, even if you haven't augmented it into a slide 2 with Rushing Cleats yet.  Just knock every enemy you hit prone at a convenient 1 square away from you!  Savage Rend is also your best option for taking advantage of the +2 attack bonus against prone creatures; simply use it on your original target before it saves, and it stays 1 square away (in case it passes the save).  If you charge it with these attacks, you get a 2 (power) + 2 (CA) + 1 (charge) + 1 (if you have Enraged Boar Form) = +5-6 to attacks, plus any bonus damage that you get for charging or having CA.  This makes Primal Wolf a rare combination of excellent striking potential as well as excellent control.  Note that Polearm Druids can already replicate this power's effect at-will, so this won't be an attractive option for them.

Flurry of Stingers (PrP):  This power is about damage, pure and simple.  It does excellent damage for a close burst 2 (just don't hit your friends!), and then whenever an enemy enters a square or starts its turn adjacent to you it takes poison damage equal to your Con mod.  A Swarm Druid using Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer can whittle down an enemy's HP, taking little damage in retaliation.

Form of the Primeval Raptor (D383):  Fly speed equal to your speed isn't too shabby, and I wouldn't even mind the requirement that you have to land at the end of your movement if the effect lasted the whole encounter.  Alas, you lose it the next time you use Wild Shape.  The attack itself is a mediocre skirmisher power, albeit one with flight.

Wildfire Aura (HotEC):  Some blasters may give it a look, but by and large a summon will be better for DPR, and a power with actual status effects will be better for the vast majority of Druids.  You'll completely murder encounters with waves of minions with it, so I guess that's enough to keep it from being red.

Feral Mauling (PHB2):  Single target attack that throws out a -2 attack penalty.  For your 9th level Daily?  Not unless you want to suck.  In a couple of levels you can take Psychic Lock and inflict the same attack penalty at-will with Call of the Beast, as an AoE that targets Will, no less. 

Form of the Primeval Cat (D383):  Terrible.  Very similar to Form of the Primeval Raptor but instead of flight speed you get a +1 to speed, and the attack is a shift instead of flight.  Oh, but you don't get the shift after a hit.

Form of the Primeval Serpent (D383):  An effect so negligible it might as well not exist (yet you still lose it next time you Wild Shape), laughable damage for a Daily, and a single target ongoing damage + slow (save ends).  I wouldn't even take this at first level.

Primal Serpent (D382):  See Form of the Primeval Serpent, but worse because it doesn't have the slow effect.  Contender for the worst power in the game.


Weapon

Reap Vitality (HotFK):  A one or two target attack, plus bloodied allies who start their turn adjacent to you get some surge free healing for the rest of the encounter. 

Winter's Withering (HotFK):  Allowing your allies to ignore difficult terrain in your aura is situational, but potentially useful.  The +2 bonus to saving throws while in the aura is also useful, and the two together (combined with decent damage) add up to a solid power.


Sudden Overgrowth (HotFK):  An aura of difficult terrain sounds nice, but since it's only an aura 1 nothing stops enemies from shifting out of it, limiting its potential lockdown capabilities.  You'll have to position yourself near other difficult terrain and/or obstacles to really take advantage of it. 


Level 10 Utility

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Armor of the Wild (PHB2):  Resist All equal to your Con mod for an encounter!  Obviously pretty useless for Predators, but this will prevent a lot of damage for Guardians and Swarms. 

Clear the Chaff (HotFK):  A minor action encounter power that lets you and all allies within 3 squares make a saving throw with a +2 bonus!  That's a pretty sweet deal.

Feywild Sojourn (PHB2):  Druids don't get many teleports, so this is a great opportunity for
them.  Best of all, it's a delayed teleport that lets you hang out in your "happy place" for a round, far out of harm's way.  As a move action at the start of your next turn, pop back onto the battlefield (anywhere within 10 squares of where you left) wherever it would be most advantageous.  And it's an encounter power!

Animal Clan (PrP):  Do you have a summon that, instinctively, doesn't fight the way you want it to (namely those that put your allies in harm's way)?  Use this whenever that summon is on the field so you can control its Instinctive Action with a minor action!  Note that you can also move the summon with a minor action, so make sure that you have a good ranged attack for your standard action.

Goodberry (PrP/HotFK):  Create 4 goodberries that last all day.  The HP/THP that they can grant was updated to 10 in HotFK and the November '10 errata, but granting a saving throw is still probably the best use of the berries.  Though it's not stated in the power, common sense would allow you to administer this to an ally as a minor action (like a potion). 

Animal Shapes (PrP):  It's Mass Skittering Sneak!  If you tend to go on a lot of infiltration missions, this will help you keep the party together (and unnoticed).

Bountiful Vigor (HotFK):  Use this early in a tough fight on an ally that's likely to get bloodied a lot (a defender or off-tank, which may include yourself).  Has greater healing potential than Goodberry, but it's more situational (relies on target being bloodied which is dangerous), and less versatile.

Spirited Wind (HotEC):  Another flight power variation; it's only a single action, but you can bring a friend. 

Updraft (HotF):  Since this power lets you fly 5 squares and doesn't give you a fly speed, I'm pretty sure you have to land (or fall) after the movement.  Still, being able to sustain it and fly for an entire encounter could be useful.

Winter Storm (PHB2):
  The difficult terrain alone isn't enough of a benefit to justify taking this power, but it also causes enemies in the (sustainable) zone to gain vulnerable 5 cold.  If you and/or your allies have a lot of cold powers, this can cause a LOT of additional damage!  Purple if there's no party synergy (few, if any, cold attacks), but sky blue if there are cold spammers in your party (cold sorcerer, frost weapons, etc).  

Cleansing Rain (PrP):  Very situational.  If you know that you'll be facing a lot of enemies with fire/acid attacks then it might be worth picking up (to re-train out when it's no longer useful).  Looks suspiciously like a power designed to aid a troll PC... 

Form of the Hunting Falcon (HotF):  Polymorph into a falcon to gain a fly speed, but you can't attack or manipulate objects.  Situationally useful in combat if you need to fly up to a safe perch.
 

Roots of Rescue (PHB2):  Not sure if forced movement is enough of a problem to justify taking a 10th level utility power (even if it is an encounter power) to negate it once. 

Swarm Swap (PrP):  This power is situational because it requires a very specific setup to be useful.  You need to be adjacent to an enemy just outside of an AoE that is targetting you. 

Diving Fin (D382):  If you're in a campaign with a lot of aquatic environments, this may become a reasonable (if sub-par) choice.  Never split the party...

Paragon Tier Powers

Summon Natural Ally (Paragon Options)
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Bulette (Guardian):  Who hasn't wanted one of these terrors at their disposal?  It deals impressive damage, and slows on a hit.  What really makes this a great option is its encounter power.  It won't use it instinctively, but a close burst 1 that deals sick damage and prones is worth the price of a standard action (that would be a decent blaster power even without the proning).  Its only flaw is that while slowing is nice and can easily deny an enemy of its standard action if the party is sufficiently far away (especially considering Nature's Growth), it won't be that hard for most enemies to escape from it.  This guy's really close to being sky blue though.

Venomous Scorpion (Guardian):  It deals the lowest damage of the Paragon summons, but immobilizing + ongoing 10 (save ends both) is phenomenal!  Enemies will be very hard pressed to escape from this guy, and it will therefore be really easy for it to use its instinctive attack every round.  You really can't go wrong by bringing this guy out, and the only reason not to is if you want to use the Bulette's encounter power.

Dire Bear (Predator):  The bear deals excellent damage, and is most valuable because it brings something to the table that most of the other summons don't.  Instead of being sticky, the bear actively pushes enemies away.  Because of this it probably won't get to attack instinctively as much as the other summons, but don't write it off just yet.  In some encounters it's just really helpful to have a good forced movement options (fighting by a cliff, pit, campfire, etc.), and even when it won't attack instinctively it may be worth the occasional standard action to command it to attack.  It also makes a really good bodyguard; park it next to a squishy ally that enemies just keep coming toward.  It will get to use its instinctive attack more often (more damage for you!), or enemies will avoid the squishy ally in which case you just did your job.  If the bear hits someone they're knocked back, allowing the bear's "charge" a chance to escape. 

Hunting Tiger (Predator):  Not much to say, really.  It's almost exactly the same as the Pack Wolf, except it does quite a bit more damage, it can shift before attacking, and it's Large.  Even if it will only attack adjacent enemies instinctively, the shift might help it gain CA.  Prone still remains a good mobility-denial tool.  Finally, while it's unlikely to be very useful in most combats, it gets a monstrous stealth bonus if it tries to hide after moving. 


Level 13 Encounter

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Implement

Bolt of Lightning (HotF):  Moderate single-target damage and daze as an effect.  Controlling as an effect is always good, even if this is only single target.

Oak Skewer (PrP):  A very large amount of forced movement to a single target if you're a Guardian, and a conditional immobilize (the target must end adjacent to a solid object).  You basically impale the target and pin them to something.  With a push of 3 + Con mod as a Guardian, odds are pretty good that you can get the target to a solid object for the immobilize (walls, pillars, trees, heck, even overturned tables work).  If you're not a Guardian, however, the push is only 3 squares, making it much more situational (red).

Primeval Thunder (HotF):  Friendly close burst 2 with good damage, and you can push each target 3 squares as an effect.  Decent blaster power, and reliable forced movement is nothing to sneeze at either.

Tidal Surge (PHB2):  A solid forced movement power.  The area affects allies as well though, so you'll have to plan for that.  Sky blue for Polearm builds, as it allows you to knock multiple enemies prone.

Twin Horned Bolt (PrP):  A single target, ranged 10 prone is underwhelming, but if you hit then any enemies that provided cover are also automatically knocked prone.  The closest thing that 4e has to a "line" attack.  

Verdant Retaliation (HotF):  This is a blaster power, pure and simple.  Good, friendly damage and as an effect enemies in your Nature's Growth area take auto-damage.  Nice way to auto-kill a bunch of minions (and to affect a large area and/or 2 different groups of enemies).

Thunder Crash (PHB2):  It may come as a surprise that I've rated your first power that stuns as purple.  That's because the stupid thing doesn't do any damage!  Both Fighters (if they're wielding a hammer or mace) and Rogues get WEAPON attacks that stun at this level, so if you take this then they'll just laugh at you.  Comparisons with other classes aside, stunning is great because it guarantees a wasted turn.  But if your turn is spent just stunning someone (no damage), then all you've really accomplished is taking yourself and an enemy out of the fight for a turn.  The effect is neutral for both of you.  That's not to say this power is useless though; it just depends on who you stun.  Stun a weakling, and the net effect is to your disadvantage.  But stun the BBEG, and you've done a wonderful thing (you may be out of the fight, but the rest of the party can wail on him).  Situational because it's only useful in combats where you can stun someone stronger than yourself. 


Beast Form

Claws of Retribution (PHB2):  At first this seems like just a decent way to get some out of turn damage in for a striker-focused Predator.  But it's so much more than that if you couple it with Savage Rend.  First of all, you get to make an OA against any adjacent enemies that hit or miss, and with an attack bonus equal to your Dex mod (as a Predator), your chances of hitting are very good.  Since OAs interrupt the triggering attack, when you slide the target away with Savage Rend you can cause them to waste the triggering attack (provided you slide them out of reach of their target).  With Rushing Cleats and/or Fierce Thrasher Form, you can even screw enemies with reach over.  This gives Predators a good reason to rush into a clump of enemies and wreak havoc, with little to fear.  Swarm Druids can absorb damage, but with this power you can avoid the attack altogether!  Bump this down to blue if you're not a Predator but still have Savage Rend, and purple if you don't have Savage Rend.

Floating Death (PrP):  You make a close burst 1 attack for solid damage, shift your speed (over to another clump of enemies) and then make another close burst 1 attack (if you're at least 4 squares from where you started), which does extra damage if you hit at least one target with the first attack.  The area damage that can result from this power is impressive, and the mobility is greatly appreciated.  Plus the imagery that it evokes is awesome.

Rending Claws (PrP):  Impressive nova set-up!  If you hit, the target gets vulnerability 5 to all damage until the end of your next turn.  Use it on an enemy with a ton of HP (Elites or Solos), because the whole party should be focus firing this guy, with multi-attacks ideally, and possibly even using action points.  Plus on your next turn you'll benefit from the vulnerability (and if you have a summon out, better still).  For Predators this is sky blue because the vulnerability equals 3 + your Dex mod (so 8 for a +Dex race, and it will scale with level, becoming 9 in one level, actually).  Striker builds will enjoy being responsible for the obscene amount of damage that this can inflict, even if it is indirectly (still your damage though!). 

Expose Weakness (PHB2):  This is an interesting setup power for Guardians.  Assuming it hits, the next attack is made agains
t the target's lowest defense.  Make sure you (or whoever makes the next attack) take advantage of the opportunity by hitting them with a doozy (Dailies preferred).  Rending Claws is a better setup for pure damage, but this could allow a power with a status effect to hit.


Level 15 Daily

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The blue ratings are generous at this level.  I usually pick up another level 9 power here.

Implement

Baleful Polymorph (PHB2):  Turning people into newts is a classic magic user threat, and now you can show everyone that you're not kidding around!  A single target, vs Will stun (save ends).  Does damage as an aftereffect, and on a miss it's a daze (save ends).  Best if you can inflict some save penalties.

Devouring Flies (PrP):  This power depends a lot on how many enemies are in a given encounter - the more the merrier.  It's a decently large area, but the initial attack hits your friends so you're better off using it sooner rather than later (start of combat is ideal).  Which is fine, since the zone (which doesn't need to be sustained!) doles out a decent amount of surgeless healing whenever an enemy starts its turn there.  Six HP might not sound like a lot, but when it's 6 HP per enemy, per round, it starts to add up.  Good defensive option.

Infesting Strike (D389):  This is pretty much an AoE that deals ongoing damage, but the damage is contagious!  Very flavorful, and can be devastating if your party has a lot of forced movement.  Even after a given enemy saves, if you force them next to another infected enemy they'll become re-infected!  You'll really dish out the hurt with this one, and it has a solid aftereffect to boot.  Interestingly, by re-infecting enemies they can be suffering from the infection and its aftereffect simultaneously.

Call Lightning Storm (PHB2):  Hmm, a smallish AoE that hits your friends too.  It does create a zone that slows, though, and as a move action you can move the zone 5 squares.  Make sure that enemies (actually, it's creatures so don't get too excited) in the zone STAY slowed!  When you sustain it, everyone takes 5 Lightning damage.  Honestly, this power would be a lot better if it wasn't so hazardous to your friends.

Devouring Ice (PHB2):  First thing's first: this power has the Reliable keyword, so you'll never "waste" it.  Against melee enemies immobilized (save ends) could easily mean "you lose your turn," and the ongoing cold damage is a nice bonus.  Plus the aftereffect does more damage than Baleful Polymorph's.  Still, it's of less general use than Baleful Polymorph since stun is foolproof action denial.  Plus, while Reliable is nice, it still means that you do nothing on your turn if you miss with it. 


World Warp (HotF/D386):  Out of turn action denial as an effect is nothing to sneeze at, and it also has some re-positioning utility.  Still, monster attacks typically aren't very damaging, so its offensive value will tend to be quite underwhelming for a 15th level Daily.  The exception to this would be if you managed to use it on something that dishes out a nasty status effect.

Summon Lightning Drake (PrP):  One of the riskier summons at your disposal.  It has an area attack that it uses as its Instinctive Action (after shifting 1 square), but it tries to catch as many creatures as possible in it, which includes you and your friends!  If you have Animal Clan (level 10 utility) or Primal Summoning Expertise (Epic feat), then this power becomes blue because you can actually control the Drake's AoE yourself.  There's also a whole spectrum of usefulness between purple and blue which depends on whether or not you and your party have lightning resistance, and how much you have.

Summon Savage Tiger (PrP):  This thing's a loose cannon.  It deals good damage, but it charges the nearest bloodied creature with its instinctive action.  Not only does that put you and your allies in danger, but it means that the Tiger could take an OA every time there's a bloodied creature within charging range.  Only if there's no bloodied creatures within range will it attack an adjacent enemy.  Bump it up to black if you have some way of reliably controlling it without using your own standard actions.

Wrath of the Storm Chaser (PrP):  A single target attack with a decent slide on a hit.  The effect is what makes this power though: whenever you use Wild Shape to change into beast form, you slide the target 2 squares.  Unfortunately, the fact that the effect only works on the initial target of this attack makes it pretty situational, besides which you need something interesting to use the slide for.  For most Druids, this won't make or break an encounter.  This is blue for Polearm Druids, however, as it essentially gives you a free prone against the target whenever you use Wild Shape to go into beast form.  Since you don't have to be in melee to knock them prone like you usually do, it's absolutely devastating against flying opponents.  You can literally cause them to automatically crash every other turn.

Summon Razorclaw Bat (PrP):  This is probably the worst summon you can get, not because it's dangerous to you and your friends but because it doesn't really do much.  After the initial attack it instinctively attacks an adjacent enemy if it can.  If it can't do that, it literally runs away and hides.  And wont' do anything else until you command it.  An enemy literally just has to walk away from it once to make it useless on its own.  It also has a close burst 2 standard action attack that causes enemies to lose all concealment, but is a mass concealment denier really worth a 15th level Daily? 


Beast Form

Jaws of Ice (HotEC):  This is actually a solid power for off-tanks, and probably the best level 15 power on the Druid's list.  The aura (which is an effect) is good lockdown potential, as the enemy basically has a choice between provoking an OA (which might slow, prone, or immobilize him) or sticking around to take auto-damage and get grabbed.  Either way you're increasing both damage output and stickiness for the whole encounter.

Primal Boar (D382):  Don't bother taking this is you're a Predator, as the damage bonus while charging is equal to your Con mod.  Excellent choice for Swarm Druids though, because when you charge and provoke OAs (which won't hurt you much even if they hit) they attacker takes 15 damage.  The target of the charge is pushed 1 square and knocked prone on a hit.  I'm not sure, but I think that the second half of this power should be formatted as its own attack, rather than in the Effect line.


Revitalizing Pounce (PHB2):  Nice self-sufficiency power.  The damage is less than stellar, but auto-saving from everything on a hit can really turn a difficult encounter around.  Make good use of the opportunity and follow up with an AP so you can screw over whoever's been inflicting all of those status effects.

Primal Crocodile (D382):  You can grab the target, and they take a -2 penalty to escape.  This is less than the penalty from Summon Crocodile (at level 9), and much less than the penalty from Latch On (a 7th level encounter power).  I expect more from my Dailies.  There's also an effect that lets you grab a target whenever you attack them in beast form, but there's no penalty to escaping, which means that escaping will be pretty easy.  Still, escaping burns a move action so for Swarm Druids who want to keep their enemies close this is blue

Slashing Claws (PHB2):  This power is all about damage, which IMO is a waste of a Daily. 


Weapon

Briar Thicket (HotFK):  A burst with good damage, and it creates an aura that prevents enemies from shifting.  Great lockdown potential, and even Wild Shape Druids will want to consider this if they plan on off-defending.  Plus enemies grant CA, like all of the other aura-creating powers seem to do.

Envenomed Steel (HotFK):  Provides a damage buff (albeit commonly resisted poison damage) to an axe, heavy blade, light blade, pick, or spear.  The target of the attack is also slowed, which is nice if you or an ally has World Serpent's Grasp. 

Stonemetal (HotFK):  Can be used on a flail, hammer, mace, or staff.  This is basically Shillelagh but with 4 extra damage instead of 2.  Yeah, Shillelagh was great at level 1, but by this level I would have expected more of an upgrade.


Level 16 Utility

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Elusive Wind (PrP):  Once per encounter flight (8 squares) is solid, and the fact that you shed any marks and ignore OAs is icing on the cake.  But the best part is that you get all of this for a minor action!  Until the end of your next turn, you also get to shift 1 square as a free action whenever you are hit.  What's not to love?  Likely a staple for Wild Shape Druids and Sentinels alike.

Falcon's Flight (HotFK):  You or an ally gains a fly speed of 6 for the rest of the encounter.  Can be situationally more useful than the single action (but per encounter use) Elusive Wind.  What makes it especially appealing is that you can attack while flying, but unlike the level 22 Sky Talon you can still use Dailies and aren't restricted to Beast Form. 

Wall of Stone (PHB2):  This power has AMAZING control potential.  You can use it to "seal off" a medium creature, which will then have to break through a square of the wall (which has 100 HP).  Here's how it works:  8 squares will completely surround the enemy, but a square is only 5 ft high so they can just step right over if you stop there.  Next place a square on top of one of the non-corner squares, so that one side is 2 squares high.  Place another square jutting off from the side of this top square, such that it forms a "lid" over the creature's head.  Voila!  You have a box!  Also useful if you need to completely block off a hallway.  Amusingly, the new Wild Shape rules let you use this in beast form now.

Darting Viper (PrP):  I can has mobility!  Shift your speed, ignoring difficult terrain, and you can move through enemy spaces.  Until the end of your next turn you also get a +4 bonus to speed, and can move through enemy spaces.  Too bad it's outclassed by Elusive Wind.

Howl of the Wild (PHB2):  Spend a healing surge as a minor action once per day.  Plus, each target (you and your allies) in a close burst 5 regains 2D6 HP (the bonus HP even scales!).  A solid defensive option, especially if there are times when the party Leader can't keep up with the party's healing needs.

Nature's Armor (HotFK):  You or an ally gains resist 5 all and gets a +2 power bonus to AC.  If this weren't a sustain minor it would be sky blue for sure.

Primal Restoration (PHB2):  Clump up with your allies an everyone in the burst 2 (including you) can spend a healing surge to either regain HP or remove an effect that a save can end.  Why isn't this sky blue, you ask?  It costs a standard action.  Better than a second wind, though.

Chariot of Sustarre (HotEC):  This power is a little weird, and I'm honestly not sure how to rate it without seeing it in-play.  A summon that can hold your allies (and lets you move them as a minor action), granting them cover and providing a damaging aura is pretty nifty.  The fact that it can fly is just great.  However, the Instinctive Effect looks like it might be annoying, and the thing's really vulnerable to enemy AoEs, especially if multiple allies are in it. 

Dryad's Trees (PrP):  Neat concept, and you grant the whole party a teleport that can be used for the rest of the encounter (albeit one with restrictions on the destination).  You can use this to severely hamper less mobile enemies, especially if combined with ranged attacks and additional control effects.

Feral Recovery (PrP):  Mass free saving throws are a good deal, and certain saves even get a +5 bonus (fear, charm, or illusion).  Not bad, but personally I'd prefer a free save (personal) that you can use every encounter.


Phantom Beast (PrP):  If you're looking for mobility and want to move through people's squares, just take Darting Viper.  Still, this has its uses, as phasing can be used to walk through walls.

Insect Plague (PHB2):  This is sort of an annoying power to use effectively, but insubstantial is a nice benefit.  Basically, if you start your turn in humanoid form you want to attack, and then wild shape so that you're insubstantial for the next round of attacks.  While insubstantial, you can't attack though, so you'll have to Wild Shape at the start of your turn back to humanoid form to attack.  Assuming you don't want to use your beast form for any attacks, you can be insubstantial every other round.  I'm not a fan of the restriction though.

Form of the Raven Flock (HotF):  Ok, so this is Insect Plague but worse because you can't switch between this and humanoid form multiple times.
 


Level 17 Encounter

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Implement

Rolling Earth (HotF):  Unfriendly close blast 5.  Enemies that are hit are pushed quite far (5 squares, you can have a lot of fun with this if you've enhanced your forced movement effects) and as an effect you can create blocking terrain on a solid surface.  Use it to gain superior cover from ranged attacks, or to block up choke points.  Sounds like a very fun power if you ask me!

Center the Vortex (HotF):  This power is very similar to Cloud of Sparrows, except the burst is bigger and you can pull any enemies that you hit.  It's balanced out by the fact that the teleport is 1 square shorter, and you don't get concealment.  A solid way to clump enemies to set them up for another area attack.

Cloud of Sparrows (PrP):  Your allies will appreciate that this burst 2 targets enemies only.  The effect grants you a rare form of mobility for a Druid - a teleport!  You also gain concealment for a turn.  This power has a bunch of little things going for it, which in combination make it a solid choice.

Searing Winds (HotF):  Fire and force damage is a good combination, but the highlight of this power is that it weakens as an effect.  Unfortunately, it's not friendly.

Torrential Storm (PrP):  The blast + slide is ok, but the zone is what makes this power worthwhile.  If your party has other forced movement options, you can keep flinging the enemies back into the zone (assuming you slid them out with the initial slide).  On your next turn, if you've upgraded your Savage Rend to a slide 3 at this point, you can even deal the zone's autodamage twice.

Windstorm (PHB2):  An AoE that slides everyone 1 + Con mod squares, if you're a Guardian.  You can do a lot with that kind of forced movement.  If you're not a Guardian, the slide is only 2 so it's probably not worth picking up.

Bloodthirsty Vines (HotF):  Encounter powers with effect lines are nice, but pulling simply isn't all that useful in my experience, especially since this is just single target.  The pull distance is impressive, but it's just too situational.

Lightning Cascade (PHB2):  You'd think shooting lightning bolts that arc onto another target would be better.  For example, if this power dazed it would be a solid power.  As it stands, slow isn't terribly useful except during the first round of combat, and by now you've probably already picked up better combat opener powers.


Beast Form

Infiltrating Drone (D389):  Oooh, a Charm AoE for beast form...that targets Reflex?  And isn't party friendly?  Uhh, ok, if you say so.  Still, the secondary attack is glorious:  an encounter DOMINATE!  And targeting Fort isn't so bad, it just means you'll want to dominate enemy controllers and skirmishers, which is probably who you'd want to temporarily convert to your cause anyways.

Hungry for the Kill (PrP):  The substantial pre-attack shift means that you can Wild Shape (shift) then move away after, protecting yourself.  Solid damage, and if you or the target is bloodied you can spend a healing surge, make a saving throw, or both!  The "bloodied" requirement isn't too restrictive, since that's when you'll be wanting to spend healing surges anyways.  A rare combination of mobility, damage, and survivability.  The only downside is there's no control... 

Scavenger's Prize (PHB2):  The damage on this attack is respectable, and you get to grab the target.  If you're a Predator, you can then shift your Dex mod squares, taking the target with you!  Excellent re-positioning power.  However, since the grab is really only a means to allow you to drag the enemy, if you're not a Predator this power is red.

Devouring Swarm (PrP):  The damage isn't bad, but like most Swarm AoE's it targets all creatures.  If you're a Swarm Druid, you get 10 + your Con mod THP so it's a good choice for off-tanks.

Inexorable Smash (PrP):  Nice attack if you're a Guardian, otherwise it's purple.  Dazed is a great status effect, and your Con mod should be high enough to give you a lot of options for the slide.  Still, at this level some multi-target control would be preferred.

Shifting Rake (PHB2):  The damage isn't terrible, but the effect is pretty situational.  Preventing a target from shifting generally means that you want said target to stay put.  If nobody's adjacent to punish the enemy for using non-shift movement, then you've failed.  So you can either park yourself next to the enemy, in which case your "after" shift is wasted unless you flank, or you need a defender buddy.  But defenders are already good at being sticky.  So it's basically useful against artillery.  Swarm Druids won't even be interesting, because Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer has been doing the same thing since early Heroic (albeit without the mobility).  Weak for its level overall. 

Slashing Death (D389):  Similar to Hungry for the Kill, but you can only spend the healing surge if all 3 attacks hit.  If I'm hurting enough to want to spend a healing surge, I sure don't want it to hinge on hitting with 3 attack rolls.  Also requires 3 enemies to be positioned the correct distance from each other.  Bottom line: redundant with a better power.


Level 19 Daily

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Implement

Summon Guardian Briar (PrP):  It instinctively attacks an enemy within 2 squares of it (and the damage isn't bad), otherwise it will move its speed so that it's within 2 squares of as many allies as possible.  Where there are allies, there are likely more enemies to attack.  Plus allies within 2 squares of it get a +2 bonus to AC.  The standard increase in DPR that good instinctive actions provide, combined with a solid defensive buff, make for an excellent choice.  Increase the number of rounds that the Guardian Briar is active by telling the Defender to stay nearby - summons count as allies, so attacks against the Briar can be punished.

Entangling Thorns (PHB2):  All told, while this is probably a better combat opener than Entangle (10 levels earlier), I'm not sure that it's a better power overall.  I guess the fact that on a miss you still immobilize for a turn is nice, but IMO this power should either a) create a zone, or b) target enemies only. 

Pummeling Hail (PrP):  Be very careful that you don't hit your friends with it (the fact that it has a range of 20 squares helps).  This sustainable zone qualifies for Wintertouched/Lasting Frost synergy, and best of all if you're in beast form (as a Swarm Druid) the zone doesn't affect you!  If you lock enemies down in the zone with you, you'll end up doing a ton of damage.  If you're not a Swarm Druid this isn't nearly as good, being bumped down to purple

Summon Swamp Behemoth (PrP):  This summon will trample all over the enemy forces.  It does a lot of damage in a given round, but it's also going to provoke a lot of OAs and go down fast.  Try to daze or stun enemies before the Behemoth goes to prevent the enemies from taking their OAs.

Thorns of the Hinterlands (HotF/D386):  It's basically Wall of Thorns on steroids.  You get 2 walls, which can't be adjacent to each other (you can still make something walk through it twice).  Unfortunately, the movement penalty to walk through the walls is only half of what WoT's is!  So even if enemies are forced to pass through both walls, the net movement lost is the same as WoT.  Uhhh...that's all the improvement we get after 14 levels?  At least try to position them so enemies have to walk through both and take double the damage.

Summon Thunder Bison (PrP):  About as vanilla as you can get with a summon.  The AC bonus will increase its survivability, but it won't be very effective at attacking enemies on its own.  It instinctively  attacks adjacent enemies or moves adjacent to an enemy, but enemies can simply walk away from it to avoid getting attacked by it at the end of your turn (remember that Druid summons don't get OAs).  You or an ally will have to lock an enemy down to help the Bison out.

Tremors (PrP):  Creating earthquakes is cool, but this power won't be terribly useful because it attacks all creatures within the burst.  Knocking targets prone is fun when they're 1 square away and/or out of charging range, but this won't slow them down much unless your allies can hold a position just outside the zone.  Grasping Tide actually offers better action denial, because knocking a target prone is a secondary attack that interrupts their move action.  If Tremors functioned more like that, it would be good.  As is, you'll mostly just give your friends a lot of CA with it.  Not cutting it for a level 19 Daily.

Winter Hailstorm (PHB2):  Similar to Pummeling Hail.  Increasing the size of the zone sounds nice, but considering that it affects allies it might not be in your best interests to do so.  Slowing at this level is also pretty weak.

Beast Form

Primal Lion (D382):  An enemies only close burst FIVE that targets Will, does solid damage, pushes one square, and dazes (save ends).  As King of Beasts you'll even inspire allies to gain 5 + Con mod THP.  And if that's not enough, every time you hit an adjacent enemy in beast form that enemy grants CA.  Excellent control with a dash of leader, and even for Predators it's probably the best choice at this level (you'll just hand out fewer THP). 

Lunge and Vanish (PHB2):  Single target damage, and you get to shift after becoming invisible (which lasts until the end of your next turn).  Is this seriously a level 19 Daily?  Its only redeeming quality is that the damage is pretty good, and striker Predators will appreciate the defensive boon of being invisible. 

Primal Bear (PHB2):  Tsk, tsk, another grab that doesn't grant a penalty to escaping.  The Fortitude bonus helps, but if you're Con based your Reflex won't keep enemies grabbed very long, and if you're Dex based the +2 bonus probably won't help much.  The +2 AC for the rest of the encounter might be attractive to Swarm Druids, but there are much better options.


Ravaging Lightning (HotEC):  Sigh.  Once again, Druids get a sub-par Paragon tier Daily.  Threatening an enemy with granting perma-CA (which most PCs will have anyways) and piddly auto-damage is NOT going to get them to give up an attack to roll the save. 

Swarming Bulwark (D389):  Turning your beast form into a living wall just oozes with Swarm Druid flavor, but unfortunately this power is mechanically beneath the power curve.  A sustain move is just mean, and the damage sucks because you don't add modifiers to it (unlike Wall of Thorns way back at level 5).  Perhaps that'll be fixed in the compiled issue, but even then the damage is similar to WoT.  You can grab targets that enter the wall...but as an immediate reaction.  Meaning once per round.  I guess that hive mind of yours isn't too good at multitasking.

Form of the Night Owl (D389):  Too many conditionals with this power.  It ends when you use Wild Shape again, and the fly speed is lame because you have to land at the end of the movement.  The damage on the attack sucks, and a single target slow is just pathetic for a Daily of this level.  The HP you hand out is also pretty piddly.

Weapon

Diligent Reaping (HotFK):  A simple high damage power, but if you kill the target you gain an extra standard action.  You better be sure that this will kill the target.


Rapid Growth (HotFK):  A single target restrain?  You can do better at this level.

Seeds of Destruction (HotFK):  If I'm reading this power right, then the necrotic damage happens only the first time you or an ally hits the target.  That's pretty lame.




Epic Tier Powers


Summon Natural Ally (Epic Options)
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Blue Dragon Wyrmling (Guardian):  By this point all of the summons are dealing the same amount of damage, and unfortunately the dragon's attack has the weakest effect (a simple mark without a punishment).  Fortunately, it happens to have a very nice "breath weapon" encounter power that deals good damage and dazes (and remember that you'll likely have Primal Summoning Expertise by this point, so you can fire that sucker off with a minor action). 

Desert Roc (Guardian):  What a wonderful summon!  You'll probably be actively commanding this guy, but since you have Primal Summoning Expertise (you did remember to pick that up, right?) it won't be too big a drain on your actions.  The Roc can grab up to 2 enemies of size Large or smaller, and then fly up into the air with them (fly speed is 8).  That's good incentive for them not to try and break the grab, right?  They probably don't want to kill the Roc either.  Feel free to drop them whenever you want, though. 

Dire Lion (Predator):  If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?  The Dire Lion's standard action is almost the same as the Hunting Tiger's before him, which is in turn very similar to the Pack Wolf's.  Actually, it's a little worse off than the Tiger's because it doesn't include a shift.  I thought about demoting this guy to blue, but his encounter power makes up for a lack of improvement in his main attack.  A friendly close burst 2 (originating from a Large creature, no less) that deals superb damage and debuffs attacks is very nice (arguably the best encounter power of all the summons), especially considering you'll be making it as a minor action via Primal Summoning Expertise. 

Raptor Behemoth (Predator):  No control attached to its attack, but it does get to shift if the target ends its turn within 2 squares of it and then it deals auto-damage.  At first glance this looks like a decent way to improve your chances of it making an instinctive attack, but by this point you're commanding your summons through Primal Summoning Expertise pretty much every round.


Level 22 Utility

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Wall of the World (HotF):  This is really nice as a utility power (similar to the Wizard's Wall of Ice, which is a daily attack power)!  Creates a large wall that's blocking terrain for your enemies (you and your allies can walk through unimpeded), and as a minor action you can repair sections of the wall that have been destroyed. 

Protective Whirlwind (PrP):  Solid debuff against area and ranged attacks, and the fact that the zone is difficult terrain is useful against melee types as well.  Plus you can slide creatures in the zone around like crazy, as a free action.  This means getting your allies into advantageous positions, and screwing your enemies over.

Stonebones (PrP):  If you're anything like me, you tend to choose encounter utility powers over dailies.  Unfortunately, this is the only encounter utility at this level, but Resist 15 All for a turn is pretty universally useful.  Plus you get to save against forced movement.

Touch of Renewal (HotFK):  Wow, the target regains HP as if it had spent 2 healing surges, and it gets 40 THP on top of that.  That'll keep someone on their feet for a while.

Primal Beast Apotheosis (D389):  You know, if this power's effect didn't end the next time you used Wild Shape, this would be hands down sky blue.  As it is, the flight portion can be better covered by picking up Sky Talon.  Effectively getting Brutal 2 might be nice for striker types, and if they tend to stay in beast form most of the time anyways then this power might be blue for them.  Ignoring difficult terrain is almost always going to be inferior to gaining a flight speed.  The highlight of this power (and the best choice of the 4 different benefits) is probably the "aura" 2 defense de-buff.  Grab a flanking buddy so you can both enjoy an effective +4 to-hit!  Again, if you tend to stay in beast form most of the time anyways, this power is better, but as a rule I'm not a fan of the restriction.

Sky Talon (PHB2):  You gain a flight speed with hover while you're in beast form.  The fact that you can actually attack while flying makes this a pretty solid choice, but it's ultimately overshadowed by the superior (and lower level) power Falcon's Flight.

Tortoise Shell (PrP):  Not a bad defensive power, and the fact that you can use it as an interrupt on yourself is icing on the cake.  If the defense bonus didn't get cut in half when you move and/or if it didn't have to be sustained this would easily be a blue, or even sky blue, power.  Alas.

Tree of Life (PrP):  Conjure up an encounter long cover object that grants you and your allies regen 5 while you're within 2 squares of the tree.  Not bad, but 2 squares isn't very far, and the fact that the tree can't be moved would make me nervous. 

Elemental Passage (D396/HotEC):  A move action to remove yourself from play for a round of enemy attacks is a fair enough defensive strategy, even if it does open up your allies to more attacks.  Only use it if you're in real trouble and they're not.  Some of the random effects are decent (water and air), but the fact that they're random doesn't work in your favor.

Fey Circles (PrP):  Wow, this would be a nice power if the circles didn't disappear when used.  Especially since BOTH the starting circle and destination disappear when used.  The Nov '10 errata changed this to give you five teleports instead of four, but that's not enough to boost this power's rating.  The circle locations are pre-set and battle conditions might change, possibly making the destinations unfavorable.

Phantom Beast (PHB2):  Well, as far as I can tell the insubstantial doesn't do much unless you plan on provoking OAs during your turn, as you lose the effects of this power at the end of your turn (not the end of your next turn).  Phasing by itself on your turn isn't useful enough to justify taking this is a utility power at this level.

Unseen Beast (PHB2):  This isn't all that great for its level.  The invisibility lasts until the end of your current turn, so you're essentially just gaining CA for the turns that you used Wild Shape to assume Beast Form.  And if you need to move past some enemies, you won't provoke OAs.  The CA is nice, but Druids have access to better powers for mobility a lot earlier than this.

Unyielding Roots (PHB2):  Wow, this does the same thing as Roots of Rescue, a sub-par 10th level utility, but to multiple allies at once.  Oh, and you can sustain the effect as a minor action, essentially giving you immunity to forced movement for an encounter.  Situational.


Level 23 Encounter

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Implement

Grasping Earth (PHB2):  An area burst 2 immobilize vs Will is a nice deal.  If you're a Predator, you also gain a bonus to attack rolls against the target(s) equal to your Dex mod.  This power is still blue for the other Druid builds.

Fungal Eruption (D386):
  This is an interesting power because it's simultaneously defensive and offensive.  The de-buff to all defenses will help you and your friends hit the targets, and the fact that they're weakened obviously makes them less dangerous to you (unless they have nasty status effects).  Oddly enough, this is an encounter power with a "save ends" effect (if that gets errata'd out, demote this power to black).
  Plus, the burst creates a zone that slows for icing on the cake. 

Ice Spikes (HotF):  Restrain as an effect in a close blast 5!  If this were friendly and/or ranged, it would be sky blue, but it's still a strong choice.

Dominate Beast (HotF):  Almost the same power as Charm Beast, but 16 levels later.  Actually, on a miss instead of dazing the power is simply not expended, meaning that the turn you used it on is wasted (so it's arguably inferior to Charm Beast).  Infiltrating Drone at level 17 is a better choice if you like dominating things.  Still, a dominate is a dominate so it's nevertheless a solid power.

Rain of Fire Needles (PrP):  An area denial power that's probably difficult to use in practice (I haven't used this power in-game, so I don't know for sure).  Basically, it's a soft control area burst 2 that encourages enemies to leave the zone.  If it were enemies only, it would be fairly simple to create lose/lose situations with this - fire it off into a melee cluster and the enemies can either leave (provoking OAs from your allies and possibly opting not to attack them) or take damage.  Since it's actually an "all creatures" attack, you're not going to want allies in the burst.  This leaves 2 scenarios where this power can be useful: 1) your allies fall back right before you set this off, so enemies either provoke OAs as they run past allies leaving the zone, or they take a longer route out that may limit which allies they can target, or 2) fire this off on a cluster of enemies that's already immobilized, restrained, etc.  This way you're basically just guaranteeing a lot of area damage.

Razor Snare (PrP):  Respectable area (burst 2) that targets only enemies.  This is the opposite of Rain of Fire Needles, as it encourages enemies to stay put.  Essentially, it's the soft control version of an immobilize or restrain.  The fact that you have access to Grasping Earth (hard control, actual immobilize) this level makes Razor Snare an unlikely choice, especially since the punishment for moving isn't that much damage.  One thing that this power does have going for it is that it's enemies only, which keeps it from being purple.  Also, if you're a Predator all of the targets grant CA - a smaller buff useable by the whole party, as opposed to the significant attack buff of Grasping Earth that only you can utilize.

Scalding Geyser (HotF):  This one's somewhat weak; if the damage were reduced it would feel at home in Heroic tier.  Prone as an effect (which can mess with flying enemies pretty bad) and the combination damage types of fire and force help maintain this power's average rating. 

Stormburst (PHB2):  Epic level encounter powers should be doing more than just slow.  If you want to hinder enemy movement, just take Grasping Earth since the affected area is the same and immobilize is better than slow.  The only thing that this power has going for it is that any creature that enters or starts its turn in the area takes 5 lightning damage.  Of course Torrential Storm (level 17) has a similar zone effect, but that one deals 10 lightning damage.

Whipping Vines (HotF):  A good concept for a power made weaker by the fact that it's single target.  The slide effect isn't that impressive, and the fact that immoblized is in the hit line hurts this power.

Beast Form

Blinding Swarm (PrP):  The blast is pretty small for a power of this level, but it does target Will.  Blind is also a pretty good status effect, and if you're a Swarm Druid you get to shift anywhere in or adjacent to the blast. 

Primal Roar (PHB2):
  An enemies only close blast 5 vs. Will that qualifies for Psychic Lock (only worthwhile if you already have Call of the Beast), and is a beast form attack.  Prone is a nice condition, and by this point you and your party should be good at positioning yourselves to make the most of it.  Deafened, however, is largely useless. 

Fearsome Fangs (PrP):  Here's another forced movement Guardian power, essentially a super souped up Savage Rend.  Your Wis mod squares is a good distance for a slide, and there are also some leader elements to this power (before the attack allies adjacent to the target get to shift 1 square, and after the forced movement the target grants CA). 


Strength of the Hunt (PHB2):  Similar to Hungry for the Kill (level 17) in that it's a beast form attack that lets you spend a healing surge.  Whereas the former comes with some mobility, this power allows an ally within 5 squares of you to spend a healing surge as well (if you're a Guardian).  A worthwhile (black) pick up if you're playing leader on the side, but the lack of control hurts.  Note that at some point in early Epic you should pick up the Wild Surge feat, as well as Vital Form.  This combination lets you use your second wind as a free action when you wild shape twice per encounter.  Unless your party lacks a leader, I don't see the point in being able to spend 3 surges for yourself every encounter (besides, the second winds are better because they give you a defense bonus).


Level 25 Daily

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Implement

Primal Storm (PHB2):  Holy smokes!  An area burst FOUR attack is incredible for a Druid, and the fact that it only targets enemies only sweetens the deal!  This power deals respectable damage on a hit, and knocks the target prone.  The zone (which is sustainable) allows for a secondary attack - an opportunity action that goes off when a prone enemy stands up.  On a hit, the prone enemy cannot stand up.  Furthermore, the OA can be used against any prone enemy in the zone, not just one that that was knocked prone specifically by this power (polearm Druids, take note).  If you can prone enemies at-will (Savage Rend for polearm Druids, Grasping Tide and some Summons for everyone else), then you can potentially lock down every enemy in this huge zone for the entire encounter (provided you roll well on your zone OAs).  If you can use forced movement to clump enemies together, spam Grasping Tide to your heart's content.

Writhing Henge (HotF/D386):  Whoa, something to actually compete with Primal Storm!  You summon 6 (!!!) tendrils, each of which makes an attack instinctively (with reach!) or slides an ally.  As a standard (or minor, with Primal Summoning Expertise) action you can command all 6 of the tendrils to attack.  Simply put, the damage output of this power is apocalyptic.  Oh, there's also ongoing 5 and a slide on top of that.  Plus, each of the tendrils has its own HP pool (equal to half your HP), but you only lose a healing surge if all 6 go down.  Talk about damage mitigation!  Its only downside is that the tendrils are immobile, but with 6 on the field (and given their reach, and ability to slide) that's not much of a drawback. 

Avian Cloud (PrP):  Enemies only area that is guaranteed to blind (save ends on a hit, until the end of your next turn on a miss).  The burst also creates a zone that doesn't need to be sustained - creatures outside of the zone have total concealment from creatures within it (the attack penalty for this is equivalent to being blind, -5).  Additionally, enemies that start their turn within it take damage.  The zone works best when you can keep enemies in it; if you can't do this through hard control (immobilize, restrain), then you and your allies can park yourselves on the outside edge after you've shoved some enemies back in.  If they try to break out, they'll draw OAs, and if they attack you from within the zone they suffer the attack penalty (which, if you're adjacent to them, is lowered to -2, as per rules on concealment).  Note that you're not penalized for attacking creatures inside the zone though, so blast away with Grasping Tide.

Creeping Doom (PrP):  This is a great offensive power for Swarm Druids, but be VERY careful that your friends know that its area is strictly off-limits.  The initial attack is a close burst 1, but targets creatures within it or adjacent to it, dealing some damage and dazing them.  The daze isn't save ends, but as a standard action you can repeat the attack, potentially allowing you to spam a close burst daze all encounter long!  It does need to be sustained, but each time you do so you can opt to increase the zone's size by 1 to a maximum of 5.  Since the standard action targets creatures adjacent to the zone as well, it's effectively a close burst 6.  But you probably won't want to take it that far, because once again, it targets allies too.  Definitely make sure that you discuss the tactics of this power with your party, and don't forget that allies can move through the zone safely, provided they don't start their turn there.

Fey Lure (PHB2):  Druids don't typically get area burst 3 attacks, so this provides some huge coverage for them.  It's a good thing that it only targets enemies (also note that it targets Will, making it accurate more often than not).  It creates a sustainable zone which, at the end of your turn, allows you to slide each enemy within it 3 squares.  With such a constant source of forced movement, hopefully you can put it to good use; stacking another zone inside of this one works especially well, though even the fine control that you have on enemy positioning is probably worth it. 

Summon Elemental Warrior (D396/HotEC):  It's certainly no Writhing Henge, but it's a solid enough summon even if it does follow the new paradigm of summons lacking the Implement Keyword.  It's functionally distinct for Druids because it doesn't have an Instinctive Action, but rather functions as a mini-defender with a mark, lockdown, and mark punishment.  Being able to choose 1 of 4 (based on the elements) is a nice touch, though Air is usually going to be the best choice because it can fly (although so can fire) and has the best lockdown.

Summon Proud Mastodon (PrP):  A summon with reach that prones on a hit?  Nice!  Of course this won't stop large (or larger) enemies from hitting it, and the Mastodon gets a +4 attack bonus against such creatures.  Still, prone eats a move action.  The biggest downside of the Mastodon is that it charges the nearest unbloodied enemy instinctively, meaning that it will probably suffer a fair amount of OAs.  If it can't do that though, it attacks an enemy within 2 squares, actually utilizing its reach (unlike the Proud Bear at level 9).  Make sure to throw a lot of dazes around to protect this guy from OAs, especially since daze + prone = one frustrated enemy (and DM!).

Wicker Man (HotEC):  Oooh, awesome imagery with this one!  It's unclear whether creatures inside the Wicker Man can actually attack it, but IMO it's implied that they can (so it probably won't last all that long).  The auto-damage that comes with the sustain is a damage roll, so it's basically a minor action attack that auto-hits everything that's still restrained. 

Summon Razorclaw Behemoth (PrP):  An unexciting summon with a melee range of only 1.  The attack deals ongoing damage, and it instinctively charges the nearest enemy taking ongoing damage (otherwise it will attack an adjacent enemy, or move up to an enemy).  It might draw OAs from charging, and besides which ongoing damage doesn't stack.  Charging the nearest enemy that's not taking ongoing damage would be more productive, IMO.

Beast Form

Primal Tiger (PHB2):  The initial attack isn't too shabby, but the real meat of this power lies in its effect: it's an improved version of Polearm Gamble for the rest of the encounter (while in beast form).  Make an OA against enemies that enter a square adjacent to you.  For Polearm Druids this is sky blue since that OA can be used to slide the enemy and then knock them prone.  Just make sure you don't try to pull this trick on enemies with reach.

Primal Ape (PrP):  Close burst 1 attack that deals decent damage and pushes everyone out of your way (3 squares on a hit, 2 on a miss).  You also become large until you leave your current beast form, and this grants you several different buffs that generally make you more effective at melee combat.  More control would be nice.

Primal Panther (D382):  Another mostly damage power, but the effect makes it a solid choice if you can reliably get CA (not a problem after the first attack, since you have CA while invisible).  You can make yourself invisible until the end of your next turn, at which point you'll hit the target again with CA and continue to stay invisible.  You won't have to worry about OAs, and attacks against you will be at a -5 penalty.  Nice defensive and offensive buff, but unfortunately there's no control.

Ferocious Maul (PHB2):  You can seriously debilitate a single enemy with this power.  Daze + Prone is a nasty combination, as your first order of business is probably going to be standing up with your one move action.  Also note that each condition has a separate saving throw.  Still though, an elite or solo will probably save on all conditions within a round or two, and even though the damage is an effect, it's not much for a single target Daily attack at this level.  Being able to target 1 or 2 creatures with this would have brought it up to par, IMO.

Weapon

Brittle Frost Blade (HotFK):  An attack against 1 or 2 creatures, plus you create an aura that causes enemies to grant CA and any damage rolls against them gain a +5 bonus.  Superb nova setup that even ranged allies can take advantage of.

Rejuvenating Harvest (HotFK):  An attack against 1 or 2 creatures, plus you create an aura that allows allies within it to automatically end one effect (out of dazed, immobilized, restrained, or slowed) on them as a free action.  A powerful benefit, but it's a bit too dependent on allies being clumped next to you at exactly the right time for my tastes.   


Level 27 Encounter

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This is an excellent level for Druids - each of the 3 Wild Shape builds get a potent option!

Implement

Disorienting Drone (PrP):  Top choice for Swarm Druids at this level.  Enemies only close burst 2 (3 if you're a Swarm Druid!) daze that targets Will.  And it packs some nice damage on top of that!  It's rare for Swarm Druids to have such a potent option that doesn't endanger their friends.

Barrage of Lightning (HotF):  Friendly close blast 5 with an effect line that dazes.  You could do worse.

Cast in Stone (HotF):  This power is a bit situational, but in the right situations it can be really powerful.  It's a waste to use it on a standard monster because you're trading in your standard action for theirs, and yours is more valuable.  Against elites and solos, however, the action economy improves drastically.  Because Petrified is a relatively rare status effect few solos have mechanics to shake it off even under the new design parameters, and save bonuses won't help because it lasts until the end of your next turn.  The best part is that you can continually sustain the effect with a standard action.

Polar Blast (PHB2):  Close blast 5 immoblize, and if you're a Guardian you can set up a nova round (targets gain Vulnerability All equal to your Con mod).  If you're not a Guardian, this is black.

Behemoth Stampede (PrP):  Too bad it hits all creatures in the blast.  Still, the combination of push 5 + prone makes this a solid choice, especially if you have some zones on the field to exploit.

Explosive Wind (PHB2):  If you like forced movement, this power delivers.  Five squares is enough distance to usually be pretty useful.  The damage isn't bad for an area burst 2, either.

Lava Vents (HotF):  Fairly large area, but it's mostly just damage.  The effect creates difficult terrain in the area and creatures that end their turn their take some autodamage.  Definitely on the weak side, especially since it's unfriendly.  Too bad, since the imagery that goes along with it is really cool.

Phantom Serpent (HotF):  What is with these single target powers?  Blind as an effect would have been great in Paragon, but this late in the game I would have expected this to be a multi-target or area attack.  The easily resisted poison damage doesn't help matters either.

Beast Form

Leaping Rake (PHB2):  Top choice for Predators at this level, and this is one of my favorite powers in the game.  Predators shift a number of squares equal to 1 + their Dex mod, attacking each enemy within reach during the shift and DAZING THEM!!!!  It's party friendly, can hit a TON of enemies that aren't necessarily grouped to be hit by an AoE, and offers significant mobility.  Unfortunately, if you're not a Predator the shift is only 3 squares, making this black for them (can still hit a good amount of enemies, but they have to be clumped).

Thunder Claw (PrP):  The Guardian go-to power for this level.  Any Druid can appreciate a single target stun as an encounter power, but Guardians even get a slide equal to their Con mod out of this! 

Howling Doom (PrP):  A close blast 5 that targets Will, and has both the Fear and Psychic keywords (take note Call of the Beast users who grabbed Psychic Lock).  The immobilize is solid, and granting CA is a nice little bonus.  Polar Blast has more damage potential, but this increases your allies' chances of hitting, and doesn't require you to be a Guardian.


Death Fangs (PrP):  On the one hand, this is a pure damage power that doesn't offer any mobility.  On the other hand, it sure is a lot of damage (especially if you're a Predator).  This is actually one power that focused striker builds (that are already satisfied with the amount of control in their arsenal) might want to pick up. 


Feral Whirlwind (PHB2):  You can't get much more vanilla than this.  Enemies only close burst 1 with absolutely no control.  Even for a pure damage attack, this one's pretty sad.


Level 29 Daily

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You may want to consider picking up another level 25 power here.  It's not that these powers are bad, it's just that several of the level 25 powers are just that good.

Implement

Summon Elder Pack Wolf (PrP):  A great capstone summoning power.  Its attack knocks the target prone, and it has an OA which is triggered when a prone enemy tries to stand up.  The OA does the same amount of damage as the original attack, and causes the target to be unable to stand up until the start of its next turn.  Great at keeping a troublesome foe down!  Not surprisingly, it instinctively attacks an adjacent prone creature, then an adjacent creature, and as a last resort it will move adjacent to an enemy.  Low maintenance, high damage, and high control.  What more could you ask for in a summon? 

Blinding Blizzard (PHB2):   Sigh.  After Primal Storm at level 25, nothing seems that amazing at this level.  This is one of the better powers of the bunch, though.  It's not party friendly, but the burst 2 blinds (save ends), which is always appreciated.  Unfortunately, no blinding on a miss.  The zone does let you make an OA though, triggered by anyone starting in or entering it, which restrains.  Can be sustained.

Earth Maw (PrP):  Restrained (save ends) is a nice condition, and when you sustain it you can repeat the attack as a minor action.  As a conjuration instead of a summon, the Maw can't be killed.  However, unlike a summon it can't attack instinctively (minor action is good enough, though), needs to be sustained (and so will end if you're stunned), and can't act as an HP sink.  Still, it's a strong option, especially if you haven't put any resources into summoning.

Hinterland Exile (HotF):  A single target attack that removes the target from play (in addition to dealing decent damage to it).  The miss effect isn't that impressive, since it's a single-target daze.  On the third failed saving throw, the target is permanently banished to another plane.  Sounds cool in theory, but Druids don't make the best imposers so the chances of an enemy failing 3 saves in a row are pretty slim (about 9% for a standard enemy, if no save debuffing is used). 

Hunter's Heart (PrP):  At this level, single target powers aren't your best choices.  That said, this immobilizes vs Will with an aftereffect that does good damage, and you get a solid encounter long offensive buff while you're in beast form as well.  Strikers may want to consider this.  Since the effect buffs beast form, Sentinels won't get as much out of it.

Summon Storm Behemoth (PrP):  Alright, so by this point you should definitely have a way to control your summons so that dangerous instinctive actions aren't really a problem anymore.  This Behemoth tries to catch as many creatures in its area attack (a burst 2!) as it can, so try to make sure it doesn't come to that.  Fortunately, before it does that it will gladly use its melee attack against an adjacent enemy, but really what makes this summon attractive is when you take control of it yourself.  You essentially get an AoE turret that you can use to decimate the enemy ranks (as a minor action, given the right feat and/or power). 

Whirling Firestorm (PrP):  This power has a surprising "blaster Wizard," or Sorcerer feel to it.  Engulf everything within a close burst 2 in a fiery conflagration, dealing respectable damage (and ongoing 10 on top of that).  It then creates a zone that damages creatures that start their turn there, and when you sustain it you can either increase the size of the zone by 1, or decrease it and make a free ranged attack.  As long as your allies don't start their turn in the zone they're fine, so this isn't as dangerous as it sounds (don't hit them with the initial attack, though!).  With this and a summon on the field, you get the free ranged attack when you sustain, the summon's instinctive action, and your standard action.  That's impressive DPR potential!

Lifeleach Thorns (PHB2):  Meh, the concept is cool but the execution is pretty weak.  It can hurt your friends, and while a target takes ongoing 10 damage, is immobilized, and is weakened if it's hit, a single saving throw can end it all.  The HP that you gain for each target hit is either downright laughable (for Predators), or simply just paltry for this level (HP regained equal to your Con mod).  Sure, it'll add up if you hit a lot of targets, but a burst 2 at this level isn't that big (besides, on a miss the damage is a tickle and the only effect is weakened, save ends).

Beast Form

Gaze of the Beast (PHB2):  Who doesn't like taking control of their enemy's actions?  Dominating is strong because it not only eliminates an action that would be used against the party, but it gives the party an extra action to use.  Dominate enemies with the most impressive attacks, especially if they look dull-witted (this targets Will, so spellcasters are a bad target).  The daze (even if it's save ends) on a miss is a bit of a let-down, but only because this is single target (a stun would have been nice, or even a dominate until the end of your next turn). 

Primal Archetype (PHB2):  Targets 1 or 2 creatures, which is good because as a single target power this would not be as exciting.  On a hit you stun (save ends), and on a miss you still stun the enemy for a turn.  For the rest of the encounter your beast form is also improved, with a solid speed bonus, an attack bonus against bloodied enemies, and the ability to shift 2 squares as a move action.  Certainly useful, but considering it's a level 29 Daily I'd expect a bit more.  Oh well, at least the power stuns.

Blizzard's Embrace (HotEC):  Overall the little effects of the zone just don't match the level.  The fact that it's heavily obscured for enemies is a solid debuff (especially for ranged or reach attacks), but difficult terrain is likely irrelevant (or nearly so) at this level, and the restrain is avoidable. 

Weapon

Storm Weapon (HotFK):  Affects flails, hammers, maces, and staffs.  Not surprisingly this allows a weapon to deal extra thunder and lightning damage once per round, but the real selling point is that it also dazes on a hit.

Corroding Weapon (HotFK):  Allows an axe, heavy blade, light blade, pick, or spear to deal 15 ongoing damage on a hit.  It's single target, and assuming said target fails its save then subsequent attacks won't benefit unless you attack someone else.  Actively discouraging focused fire is not good.



Multiclassing, Paragon Paths, and Epic Destinies

Multiclassing


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Assassin - Acolyte of the Veil is a solid MC feat (Druids might find Stealth tempting, and a 1/enc teleport fills a gap in the Druid's mobility, as they don't get many teleports).  It also opens up Venom Hand Master, which is useful if you have a lot of poison attacks, the Coiled Serpent PP, and/or a Staff of the Serpent.  Sky blue for such poison-centric builds.


Avenger - Everyone likes to poach their class feature, and you actually have some stat synergy.


Cleric - You share an attack stat, and Sentinel's might want to pick up Healing Word feats with Cleric as a pre-req.  Some people interpret Battle Cleric's Lore (D400) as working with the M/C feat, and if your DM is one of these people then Cleric M/C becomes sky blue, possibly even gold.  An unconditional +2 shield bonus patches the ruling that Druids can't use shields in beast form quite nicely, even making the Swarm Druid more playable.


Fighter - Battle Awareness is an excellent MC feat in its own right, but this also gives Druids access to Polearm Momentum which, thanks to the Alfsair Spear, they can use with Savage Rend.  Con Druids may also want to pick up Wary Fighter (use Wis instead of Dex for Initiative), but only if the overall bonus is greater than that provided by Improved Initiative.


Invoker - You share an attack stat (Wis) and one of two secondaries (Con).  Diversify your controller repertoire.


Monk - Probably the best M/C option for a Wild Shape Druid (assuming you're not going for Polearm Shenanigans).  An encounter useage of Centered Flurry of Blows makes the entry feat worth it.  Ki focuses are nice if you want to pick up some weapon attacks from HotFK.  For even more fun, pick up a Transcendent Ki Focus as your Superior Implement to get reach with your melee attacks (you give up an accurate implement, but reach is a tactically potent option).  An Abduction Ki Focus is a great enchantment since it gives you slide 1 with your MBA's so you can either increase Savage Rend's forced movement capabilities, or tack Savage Rend's slide onto Grasping Claws to get the best of both worlds.  The Radiant Fist PP also gives the Druid a place in a party abusing radiant shenanigans.


Poisoner (D373) - This "multiclass" allows you to ignore poison resistance, which could be very useful for striker types that picked Coiled Serpent as their PP. 


Ranger - A good alternative to skill training, since you'll get some conditional bonus damage to boost your striking prowess.


Rogue - Predators might want to look into this, but given the Rogue's very specific weapon requirements I wouldn't try to poach any powers off of them.  Possibly blue for spring Sentinels.


Shaman - This is hands down the best M/C option for Sentinels, especially if you want to maximize the amount of critters you have on the field.  The stats synergize well, and Spirit Talker provides great control.  Mending Spirit is a superb MC feat, granting you a 1/enc use of Healing Spirits and significantly boosting your capabilities as a leader.


Paragon Paths


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Adroit Explorer (PHB2):  What class doesn't like this PP?  An encounter power of your choice, an attack bonus against the first enemy that bloodies you, and resist 10 all when you spend an action point is a solid starting package.  The utility lets you reroll a failed save with a bonus, you can spend a healing surge (it's an encounter power, to boot).  Finally, the Daily allows you to use one of your encounter powers as an immediate reaction when an enemy bloodies you (without expending the power). 


Blightbeast (D373):  Predators won't get as much out of this PP, because it has both features and powers that key off of Con.  You gain necrotic resistance while in beast form, and your beast form attacks also deal extra necrotic damage equal to your Con (making this a fine striker-focused PP for Guardian and Swarm Druids).  When you spend an AP, adjacent enemies can choose to get out of the way or take ongoing damage equal to your Con mod.  At 16th level you can ignore necrotic resistance in beast form, and enemies without necrotic resistance gain necrotic vulnerability (5) when you hit them (in beast form).  Yep, this PP definitely has impressive damage potential.  These damage boosts notably apply to all beast form attacks, not just melee attacks, so Swarm Druids rejoice in the devastation that your AoEs will sow!  The encounter power isn't anything special, it's essentially a necrotic version of Savage Rend with a daze effect.  The utility is a great mobility boost though, as you can move your speed + Con while in beast form, and you take half damage from any melee attacks (OAs) that damage you during this movement.  Combined with the Primal Swarm class feature, expect to be mostly unphased.  The Daily is a bland single target slide that deals ongoing damage, and enemies that start their turn adjacent to you take 5 necrotic damage.  Fortunately the rest of the path is so good.


Primal Summoner (PrP):  Usually a better choice for a summoner than Pack Lord.  The features are all great: your summons get an attack bonus to their instinctive actions and regain HP when they use them (less useful in Epic if you pick up Primal Summoning Expertise), and when you use an AP you can give a standard action command to a summon as a free action (Pack Lord's feature was similar, but only let you give a minor action command).  At 16th level whenever you take a move action, your summon can also move its speed (best part: it doesn't say "you command your summon to move its speed," it just moves.  Thus, they can still use their instinctive action after moving!).  The encounter power is only ok, granting your summons a damage bonus against the target.  The Utility is a stance (rare for a Druid) which gives your summoned creatures an attack and damage buff with all attacks except instinctive actions.  Very limited use in Paragon, but once you get Primal Summoning Expertise it becomes useful.  Not surprisingly, you get a summon power at level 20, but it's kind of an odd (though effective) one.  It switches forms constantly, even bouncing back and forth between medium and large size.  Its attacks have a built in shift though, so only on rare occasions will this summon not deal damage instinctively (it's also party friendly).


Blood Moon Stalker (PHB2):  Not a bad choice for striker-focused Druids; the attack powers are pretty sub-par (they offer no control), but the features are nice: free MBA when you use an AP, free action second wind when you kill something (pick up Vital Form even if you're not a Dwarf!), and at 16th level you can crit on a 19-20 in beast form.  Thanks to the utility power (and the MBA with an AP), this PP provides impressive nova potential for Druids, which is usually their biggest weakness as secondary strikers.


Coiled Serpent (PrP):  This PP is a strong choice, especially for striker-focused Druids.  The poison resist and stealth bonus may or may not be useful, but dealing ongoing damage with a successful AP attack is excellent, especially if you target multiple enemies (they all take the damage).  At 16th level, you get a significant damage boost (2D6 additional poison damage to all melee attacks in beast form).  The encounter power is a great grab attack, provided you're ok with it turning into a normal grab after 1 turn (and therefore not worth sustaining).  Instead of an escape penalty, it grants a direct +5 bonus to all defenses, which also aids in survivablity (plus attacks that miss you automatically hit the target).  The utility is an encounter power with a 3 square shift + concealment (nice!), and the Daily is an impressive enemies only area burst 2 that targets Will.  Your modifier (and static bonuses) aren't added to the damage, but dazed is a solid condition (on a miss you still daze for a turn), and the target takes damage for attacking if hit.


Inner Circle Initiate (HotF):  Protector only.  The AP feature is a weak damage bonus, but the 11th level feature gives an ally in or adjacent to your Nature's Growth zone THP equal to their surge value when you use the power.  The encounter power is a friendly area burst 2 that creates a zone as an effect; enemies that start or end their turn in the zone grant CA until the start of their next turn.  Vanilla, but easy CA won't go to waste, and you can affect a lot of enemies with it.  The utility is an out of combat daily.  At 16 enemies that end their turn adjacent to you while you're bloodied take autodamage.  That's a solid deterrant against melee attackers (and if nothing else it'll increase your DPR).  Might be worthwhile to carry a low level Blood Fury Weapon just for the power.  The Daily is a simple blaster power that creates a moveable zone which deals autodamage to creatures ending their turns in it. 


Keeper of the Hidden Flame (PHB2):  This is a good pick for Sentinels since their Animal Companion is an ally (which makes the 16th level feature, the utility power, and the daily power more useful).  A good default for Sentinels that don't need the healing of Spiral Wind's Ally.  The 11th level features are useful to any Druid: re-roll a missed attack when you AP and get +1 to attack against your nearest enemy with close, ranged, and area attacks.  If you have an ally that likes to charge, the 16th level ability is a nice mobility buff.  The 11th level encounter power offers excellent single target control: vs Will attack that pulls the target, knocks it prone, and dazes it for a turn.  The utility is an encounter power that buffs your party's attack and damage in a close burst 5.  The Daily is an odd power reminiscent of Call of the Beast, though it's single target.  Probably the weakest feature of this PP (assuming you have a charge-happy ally).  Overall, everything about this PP is fairly solid, though it lacks anything that really stands out as amazing.


Luminescent Swarm (PrP):  The stronger of the two Swarm Druid PPs.  You have an Aura 5 that grants allies a +2 bonus to saving throws (and sheds bright light), and you deal bonus radiant damage when you use an AP.  Starting at level 16, when you use Wild Shape to enter humanoid form, you can choose an adjacent enemy to get a -2 penalty to attacks against you.  The features might not be amazing, but they're all moderately useful.  The encounter power is a vs. Will blast that offers dazing, sliding, and lets you shift 1 square for each target you hit.  Awesome!  The utility is situational (a sustainable Daily that says "no more concealment for you!" in a close burst 2), but the Daily is gold:  enemies only close burst 3 that attacks all 3 defenses (one attack roll for each target); hitting Fort deals ongoing radiant damage, hitting Reflex lets you slide the target 5 squares, and hitting Will blinds the target (save ends).  Whoa!  The damage applies if you hit any defense.


Pack Lord (PrP):  This PP has solid features, including +1 to attack and all defenses when you have a summoned creature out, giving a minor action command to a summon as a free action when you AP (note that the summon can still use its instinctive action as long as this is the only command you give it), and at 16th level your bloodied summons gain regeneration.  The encounter power is a single target attack that lets you tell a summon to use a standard action attack; if you don't have a summon out it might even work on one of your allies intead!  The utility is pretty much a carbon copy of Animal Clan (10th level utility), but it allows you to use any standard action attack instead of just the instinctive action.  Note that once you hit epic, taking Primal Summoning Expertise makes this utility useless.  At 20th level, you can choose a 19th level Druid summoning power (the Guardian Briar and the Swamp Behemoth are the better choices).  If you plan on spending a lot of time in Epic (with Primal Summoning Expertise), this path becomes a better choice than Primal Summoner, as PS's 11th level feature works with Instinctive Actions, which your summons won't be using if you're giving them standard action commands as minor actions.


Shadow Dancer (HoS):  You're looking at improved mobility via teleportation and gaining CA for doing it (not that you usually have trouble getting it, but it could save you a feat slot).  Your best teleport, Feywild Sojourn, doesn't work too well with it though, since you reappear the turn after you teleport (thus you won't get CA from the level 11 feature).  Still, it'll meet the pre-req for the PP.  A free teleport when you use an AP and free invisibility for being hidden (situational, as most Druids don't become hidden that often) round out this PP's features.  The encounter power is phenomenal, combining a self-teleport, a MBA, teleporting the target on a hit, and dazing all into one juicy package.  Works really well with either Grasping Claws or Savage Rend. The utility is also very nice, though I don't get why teleporting as a minor if you're adjacent helps you; you already used your minor to activate the power, so aren't you essentially just trading your move for a minor instead of just using your move directly?  Ah well, mobility is mobility.  The Daily is odd, creating an enemies only damaging, slowing, and obscured zone along the path where you shift your speed.  Use it to debuff enemy ranged attacks made through it and push/slide melee guys into it.  Overall a sub-par level 16 feature balanced out by an amazing encounter power makes for a decent PP, given that the other features/powers are solid (if nothing too spectacular).


Spiral Wind's Ally (PrP):  This is a good choice for Sentinel's (assuming they have a decent implement), but Wild Shape Druids will likely get annoyed with with level 11 features being restricted to humanoid form.  Sentinels have enough healing to get a lot of mileage from Healing Spiral, and allowing an ally to spend a healing surge whenever you use an AP is solid for any Druid build.  The 16th level feature lets you shift 2 squares as a free action when you spend a healing surge, which could be useful for re-positioning.  The encounter power is a decent enemies only blast with some surgeless healing for allies adjacent to the target(s).  The utility power is an encounter power, but it's dependent on your allies' use of second wind; with few exceptions (Dwarves being the most straightforward), PCs typically only use second winds as a very last resort.  The Daily is nice because it's enemies only, and because you get to choose one of three damage types, with each one causing a different effect (yay versatility!).  Unfortunately, the effects aren't amazing: either all targets slowed (weak for this level), all allies in blast get surge free healing (by far the strongest option), and one enemy in blast dazed (why can't you daze everyone?  It's a Daily!!!).


Formless Predator (D394):  At level 11 you get a small 1/enc damage boost and a cosmetic benefit, though the AP feature (shift + ending a condition) is solid.  At 16th level those pining for Natural Spell can be sated; you can give one of your at-wills the beast form keyword, which disappears when you change back to humanoid form.  The obvious candidate is Grasping Tide, as having a ranged AoE in beast form can be handy (if you're immobilized/restrained, or if you don't want to lose out on threatening with an OA).  The encounter power offers solid mobility and damage, but a single target daze is a bit of a let-down (you've probably been dazing 2 targets with Predator's Flurry, which also offers mobility, since level 3).  The Daily is solid as it guarantees blindness and deals respectable damage, but is still single target.  The utility is probably my favorite feature, since it lets you get around that 1/turn restriction on Wild Shape (the wording of which means that you're always under a polymorph effect, so you can use this in both beast and humanoid form).  The THP and safety net vs Petrification are just icing on the cake (the utility alone almost tempts me to bump the path up to blue).


Guardian of the Living Gate (PHB2):  The 11th level feature makes your AoE's more accurate (conditionally), you can grant a save with an AP, and at 16th level you grant a save when you fail one.  The utility also grants allies a save bonus against attacks from a certain enemy.  Overall, this PP has a strong leader slant to it.  The encounter power is a moderate self-buff, and the Daily offers single target damage with a little control.


Nocturnal (HoS):  This PP is primarily focused on damage and gaining phasing, which obviously increases your mobility.  The level 11 feature gives you phasing during the movement of your charges, which combined with a Badge of the Berserker means you can feel free to charge through enemy spaces.  When you spend an AP and hit w/ an at-will, you can charge as a free action.  The encounter power is very nice, as it stacks damage onto a melee attack and gives you THP.  The utility seems a little odd and underpowered for a Daily, but free flanking can certainly come in handy (still, I've never had problems getting CA as a Druid).  Unfortunately the level 16 feature is garbage (who trades their standard for a move action?), and the Daily is a bit underwhelming, though though at least functional.  Like Blood Moon Stalker this path increases your nova capacity, but it does so more by providing several ways to tack a little bit of damage onto attacks.  Overall I think BMS does the job better (and provides better survivability), but if you like the idea of phasing you might prefer this.


Primal Mapper (D382):  This PP is all about mobility, which is one of the Druid's strengths.  The 11th level features allow you to move your speed or shift half your speed when you AP or use your Second Wind (hint: Vital Form (P feat), Wild Surge (E feat), Dwarf, and some items and powers (see Shaman's Hearth Spirits) are great second wind enablers).  At 16, you ignore difficult terrain completely, which is pretty gravy for a mobile melee controller.  The encounter power gives you some meh soft control, but it also provides extra damage to an at-will attack, and Druids have great at-wills that they tend to use frequently.  Plus as far as I can tell the extra damage would apply to all targets of an AoE.  In my opinion, this is the best part of the PP as far as a Druid is concerned.  The Utility power is nice, especially since it makes the slow condition a whole lot more useful.  The Daily is pretty underwhelming from a controller's perspective, but if you're struggling with concealment it certainly has its uses.


Sky Hunter (PHB2):  Flight speed before an AP is nice, but an attack bonus against flying creatures is very situational, and Perception bonus after a beast form Daily (at 16th level) is underwhelming.  The utility is basically Black Harbinger.  The encounter power is an excellent single target attack though: fly twice your speed without provoking an OA from the target, and on a hit the target is blinded.  Blinding stuff is always gravy, but it's the mobility that really makes this power useful.  The Daily grants you a "single move fly speed" (you have to land after your move action) for the encounter while in beast form, and a single use attack that packs a nasty punch: enemies only close burst 5 that deals respectable damage and slows (save ends), or for a turn (on a miss).  Poor features + good attacks average out to an average overall PP.  Also, this would have been a perfect opportunity to give Druids at-will flight, so I'm a little bitter that the PP doesn't offer this.


Steadfast Sentinel (HotFK):  Only Sentinels can take this path.  The encounter power is yet another use of Combined Attack: no thank you!  A free shift that ignores difficult terrain for you or an ally when you make an AP is nice, and the other level 11 feature (you ignore difficult terrain) is nifty, but it's nothing really that mind blowing.  The utility is by far the highlight of this PP, giving you and 1 ally regen while bloodied, which can be ended as a minor action to spend a healing surge with some bonus HP.  The level 16 feature just seems out of place, as an at-will power that lets you polymorph into another humanoid.  Sentinels choose to give up shapeshifting, and this isn't as cool as Wild Shape.  The Daily would be nice if it were a minor action, but IMO spending a standard action to activate an aura without making an attack isn't all that great at this level.  Most Sentinels would do well to choose something else; Spiral Wind's Ally, Guardian of the Living Gate, or one of the Summoner PP's make great choices.


Vermin Lord (BoVD):  A niche PP that largely focuses on movement options and buffing/debuffing (and notably requires an Evil alignment).  The AP feature is a combination auto-damage/defensive buff for enemies/allies (respectively) adjacent to you, and the feature is vanilla poison resist (a common damage type at least).  The encounter power has several minor effects that combine into a pretty decent package (except for it being unfriendly), with vulnerability 5 all as an effect being the highlight.  The utility is pretty "meh," especially as a daily, though the level 16 feature provides a really easy way to gain a fly speed (it's not permanent, but lasts for a turn after you use an encounter or daily power, which should be most of the combat).  That feature is easily my favorite feature that this path offers.  The daily provides ongoing 20 poison damage as an Effect, which is pretty interesting (even if it's not particularly powerful).


Whirling Samara (PrP):  I love the flavor of the mixed swarm that this PP touts (a swirling mass of birds, insects, leaves, and seeds), but at the end of the day you can apply that flavor to any Swarm Druid right out of the box.  You gain immunity to ranged and melee forced movement attacks while in beast form (can we say situational?) and you get to make up to 2 attack re-rolls before the end of your next turn when you use an AP.  There's a catch though - exercising the re-roll option will deal damage to you.  The level 16 feature is a bit better, giving you a fly speed for a turn when you wild shape into beast form.  The encounter power has a hint of leader, as it grants THP to an ally within 2 squares of you when you hit (notice that you can attack 1 or 2 creatures, so you can give 2 allies THP).  Still, the THP is only equal to your Wis mod.  The encounter utility is excellent: when you wild shape into beast form you become insubstantial until the end of your next turn and you can move through enemy spaces.  Nice!  And finally, the last element granted to you by this PP is actually probably the best.  The Daily power is an enemies only blast 5 that blinds (save ends), in addition to dealing respectable damage.  The effect grants you some buffs while in beast form, including the ability to shift 2 squares as a minor action and blinding (save ends) anyone you score a critical hit against (the zone from Entangle provides some nice synergy here). 


Storm Speaker (PrP):  This PP wouldn't be that bad if you had more lightning and/or thunder powers.  Moreover, limiting yourself to the small number of the ones that you do have would probably result in a sub-par assortment of powers (you don't have many lighting/thunder powers that are particularly good).  Two of the features only come into play if you use lightning/thunder powers (so not often for most well-constructed builds), though the free action flight when you use an AP is nice (and having lightning/thunder resistance is likely to come up at some point during your career).  The encounter power is a bit bland, though it can be used to set up a better attack.  The utility isn't bad - a defensive buff for the rest of the encounter and the ability to slide enemies that end their turn adjacent to you.  The initial attack of the Daily is a flexible multitarget power (1, 2, or 3 enemies in a close burst 3), but at the end of the day this power is all about damage, without a control component.  Meh.



Epic Destinies


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Deadly Trickster (PHB):  Only Predators will qualify for this ED.  The level 21 feature is nice, as re-rolls are always welcome.  Not expending a power for rolling high will be nice when it happens, but it only triggers off of the first attack roll.  This isn't in your favor if you're using an AoE or multi-target power.  The utility is very nice, as it basically gives you all of your resources back.  Blow several dailies in a nova round, and then get them back later with this.  The capstone ability should be saved for a situation when you'd otherwise drop below 0 HP, to save your butt.

Demigod (PHB):  The gold standard for EDs, mostly because at level 21 you get to increase 2 abilities by 2 each.  That's a free +1 to 2 NADs, to attack and damage, and to AC for you.  Level 24 is a vanilla get-out-of-jail-free ability.  At level 26 you get a daily regen utility, which is solid for survivability.  The capstone recovers an encounter power each encounter, letting you use your favorite encounter power twice.  All excellent.

Eternal Seeker (PHB):  This ED is tough to rate because it depends highly on what exactly you hope to get from it.  You can choose encounter and daily powers from any class, allowing you to cherry pick the best Wis based implement powers in the game (look to the Cleric and Invoker, for starters).  At level 24 you can double what you get out of APs, even if the second extra attack is delayed by a round.  It's still 2 rounds of nova for the price of 1.  Your utility can be from any class, and since these aren't necessarily tied to ability scores you have a HUGE selection to choose from.  The possiblities seem endless.  As your capstone ability, you can cherry pick a 24th level ability from any other ED.  In general, this ED has gotten a lot more favorable as more splatbooks have been released.  Let the power creep work for you!

Glorious Spirit (PHB2):  All around unimpressive features.  A small amount of extra damage to your worthy foe, resistance/insubstantial piercing, and some mobility for a class that can already usually get wherever it wants to be. 

Harbinger of Doom (PHB2):  This ED is all about salvaging your own bad rolls and making things even worse for your enemies when they roll badly.  I don't like how random these benefits are, and you're always at the mercy of the dice.  The utility is fairly weak. 

Lorekeeper (PHB2):  Small bonuses against creatures under the purview of your knowledge skills.  The only attractive part of this ED is the capstone feature, which lets you turn 2 daily utilities into encounter powers.  It comes too late in the game to recommend this ED, though.

Primal Avatar (PHB2):  A teleport with a frequent trigger (being hit), even if it costs and immediate reaction is solid.  The level 24 feature is a roundabout way of essentially giving you +1 to attacks and skill/ability checks based on one ability score.  Not quite as good as getting a +2 to Wis, but pretty close.  There's also a nice daily utility, and a solid save-your-butt ability as your capstone feature. 

Fang of the World Serpent (PrP):  The level 21 feature is largely wasted since it's based on Str, but the level 24 feature gives you 2 free attacks for bloodying something or scoring a critical hit.  The utility is an accuracy and speed boosting stance (though it's conditional), and at level 30 you can possibly reduce critical hits.  Those wishing to boost nova potential might give this ED a look.

Fury of the Wild (PrP):  An ED that increases Wis is always welcome.  Autodamage to unbloodied enemies within 10 squares whenever you score a critical isn't too shabby, especially if you have an expanded crit range.  The utility is an immediate reaction encounter power that gives you a bunch of little benefits (triggered off you you being bloodied).  The capstone feature is a dud, though; conditional re-roll when you miss with an at-will.  We can overlook this since it'll only see 1 level of play.  Still not as good as Demigod.

Honored Ancestor (PrP):  This ED isn't too bad, even if it is a little bland.  Features are all defensive in nature, except the level 24 which lets you teleport when you spend an AP.  The utility power is an encounter power that has a good chance of negating your attack, and the capstone feature is usable per encounter, allowing you to spend a surge when you're reduced to 0 HP.

Master Hierophant (D396):  Can't go wrong with a +2 to Wis and whatever your secondary stat is, but overall this is one of the weakest of the Demigod clones.  The level 24 feature is odd, and best used out of combat for surge efficiency.  The utility power is a non-Wild Shape Polymorph (so you can't combine the two) that increases your mobility somewhat and has some other minor benefits.  Nothing too special, but not all that bad either.  Level 30 is your standard "cheat death" feature. 

Mythic Spirit (PrP):  A very leader-focused Demigod clone (in that you can increase an ability score by 2).  You get a bonus to saves, and allies can rolls saves whenever you make a save.  You can use your Second Wind for free when you're dying, and the utility power is an interrupt that lets you heal an ally that drops to 0 HP, giving them a free attack to boot.  This is a top-tier choice, for sure.

Reincarnate Champion (PrP):  Yay, free racial powers of your choice!  And what's this?  You get to boost an ability score by 2 in Demigod-like fashion?  Don't mind if I do!  The utility lets you reincarnate yourself as a different race (actually, it forces you to if you use it), which may or may not be appealing.  By level 30 you gain access to every single racial encounter power, but to use one that's not one of your 2 Past Spirit races (or your own) you have to sub one of those out for it.  Could be conditionally useful.

Sovereign Beast (PrP):  You can use Wild Shape to become Large, and after level 26 enemies around you are pushed an enemies that can see you are debuffed.  Wild Shape often and reap these benefits often.  Other features allow you to use any beast form encounter power with a charge (and tack a prone onto it), and you can regain an encounter power or spend a healing surge when you kill something.  A solid package overall.

World Tree Guardian (PrP):  This one's for the Con Druids out there.  Damage resistance whenever you're hit is a great starting feature, and on top of that at level 30 you get regeneration equal to however many healing surges you have.  You'll be plenty durable.  At level 24 you can die in place of an ally, and then come back to life with regen the following turn.  The utility power has some tactical potential, but unfortunately it's a sustain minor.  This is one of your better defensive options.

Indomitable Champion (HotFL):  This one's a Demigod clone; start out by increasing 2 ability scores by 2.  Extra HP and a bump to all NADs is a great follow up feature for level 24.  At level 26 you can heal when you drop to 0 HP, and at level 30 you can turn a hit against you into a natural 1 once per day.  This is the more defensive ED from the Essentials books. 

Destined Scion (HotFK):  Again, another Demigod Clone, so bump 2 abilities by 2.  At level 24 you gain a bonus to all attack rolls and saving throws.  Nice!  The utility power is your standard heal-after-dropping-to-0 HP (actually, if you start your turn below 0 HP).  Finally, at level 30 you can turn a miss into a hit 1/day.  This is the offensive Essentials ED, so it's a good one to default into if you can't decide what to pick. 

Shiradi Champion (HotF):  Boost an ability score by 2, and gain several other minor Fey-themed benefits (including Fey origin).  At level 24 you gain a conditional bonus to AC and Reflex, and at level 30 you get your get-out-of-dying-free card.  The utility power allows you to remove yourself from play to gain various benefits from Queen Tiandra.  This one's really close to being sky blue, but it falls slightly short of the other ability-boosting options (even if it is really flavorful). 

Wild Hunter (HotF):  You get a stat bump, but it has to be Str or Dex so only Predators will be interested.  Tack ongoing damage and CA onto one of your encounter powers at level 24, and summon a pair of hounds (that don't do much) with your utility power.  At level 30 you can save yourself from death, and assume the form of the Avatar of the Wild Hunt while you're at it.  This lets you regain your encounter powers, makes you Large, increases your reach, and expands your crit range with at-wills.  If this didn't happen so late in the game this ED might be more worthwhile.

Considerations, Combos, and Tactics

Build Considerations


Balancing Versatility and Specialization

The most important thing to keep in mind is that while some specialization is desirable even for a class that strongly emphasizes versatility, over-specialization is counter-productive.  So where exactly does that line lie?  Unfortunately, there aren't really any hard and fast rules, and it will mostly depend on your build and party composition.  The most general advice that I can give is that you should always favor your primary role, even if you have a strong slant toward a secondary role.  I'll give some examples.

How Much Secondary is Too Much (Predator and Swarm Druids):  I've seen a lot of "striker" Predator builds floating around, and as a rule they focus too heavily on choosing damaging powers (particularly encounter powers).  As a Druid, the vast majority of your extra damage will come from feats and/or items that provide conditional damage on charges and from CA.  In my experience, this makes Savage Rend or Grasping Claws the go-to power for single-target damage (you can't charge with encounter powers).  So stay away from powers like Darting Bite, etc. because they're typically not going to bring as much to the table as a more control focused power.  If the party needs an off-striker, default to Savage Rend. 

The same goes for wannabe defender Swarm Druids.  Your class feature and a couple of utility powers will probably make you as tough as you need to be, and all you need for stickiness is Ruthless Killer + Grasping Claws, and Clinging Drones if you want to hold onto multiple enemies.  If you put so much effort into defending (or striking for Predators) that your controlling suffers, you would have been better off making an actual defender (or striker).

In short, specialize enough to be effective at a given tactic, but recognize possible redundancies and know when you've gotten into the "overkill" territory. 

Guardian Ping-Pong:  I'll give an example for Guardian Druids now (because let's face it, they don't get enough love).  They have the best options for forced movement, but don't accumulate more forced movement than you actually need.  This will vary depending on build and party composition (and don't forget that Savage Rend can become a slide 2 around mid-Heroic with Rushing Cleats, and a slide 3 in Paragon with Fierce Thrasher Form).  If an at-will suits your needs, don't blow an encounter power!  The biggest concern with forced movement is having something useful to actually do with it.  Shove enemies into a sticky defender.  Move them into/through damaging zones.  Clump them to set them up for AoE's.  Clear paths for allies that are less endowed in the mobility department.  Couple it with control (prone, daze, immobilize).  All of these things require specific conditions to achieve synergy, so make sure that you or your allies can provide those conditions!  If you find yourself shoving enemies because it's all you can do (and then having them simply move back to where they want to be), then you need to re-evaluate your build and/or tactics.

Use What Works:  Finding an effective one-trick pony could go a long way toward freeing up your power slots for other options (making your more versatile).  Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer has already been mentioned (don't bother with grappling powers, you are already the king (or queen) of single-target sticky!).  Another example is Polearm Druids who can prone with Savage Rend at-will.  Against enemies without reach, this is all the single target control that you'll need.  Encounter and Daily powers that offer single target action denial will look far less attractive to this build, because they're redundant with an at-will.  Alternatively, Grasping Claws + World Serpent's Grasp plays very similarly to a Polearm build, but requires fewer resources invested.

Embracing the Beast - Or Not?:  I'd like to offer up some advice on the frequency in which you use Wild Shape.  Generally, the answer should be often.  Specifically, you should have worthwhile options for both forms so that you can tackle a wide variety of different encounter types.  At the extreme end of the scale (one at-will as your only beast or only humanoid power, which I recommend against), at least make sure that you choose your "emergency" power well; Grasping Tide is an excellent choice for a very beast-form centric Druid, as it's a generalist, high control, AoE power.  For caster specialists, Savage Rend is the cream of the crop (you'll definitely want a MBA, and a slide is typically more useful than a slow).  At this point, however, you're taking advantage of neither the minor action shift that Wild Shape allows, nor the melee vs range flexibility, and IMO that's a bit of a waste.

Usually the flow of the battle will dictate which form you find yourself in.  If you need some enemies dazed and your only powers that daze are beast form powers, that's the form you assume.  Next round you might want to push a cluster of enemies, and your only option for that is a caster power.  This makes the choice obvious.  Sometimes it's just as simple as asking an ally if they need a flanking buddy.  Always look for tactical opportunities, keeping what powers you have available in mind.  Certain monster types might also dictate your choice of form.  In beast form you might be able to lock down artillery monsters, but you can't really do anything against flying opponents.  Consider also what defenses your caster form powers target vs your beast form powers; by asking the DM a few clarifying descriptive questions, you can almost always tell which defense is low for a given monster.  Finally, your own condition may dictate your tactics.  If you're battered and bruised, it might be advantageous to hang back and fling ranged attacks for a while.  If your allies are getting pummeled and you have the HP and surges to spare, by all means close in with fangs bared and take some hits for the team. 

Mediums for Specialization:  I've already hinted at this, but I wanted to state it directly: you'll rarely need to devote all of your resources to one function.  For example, if you want to maximize your striker potential, you'll generally do so via damage boosting feats and items.  This leaves you free to choose control options for your powers, instead of seeking out powers with the highest damage dice.  Also be sure to check out alternative ways to achieve a given effect; for example, Agile Form and Pouncing Beast Armor do the exact same thing.  Sometimes you won't want to waste a feat, and sometimes you'll have a different armor enchantment in mind.  Take the path of least conflict!  You might not even need either of them, as there are plenty of powers that increase your mobility (both attack powers and utility powers).  Weigh your options carefully, look for alternatives, and do what's best for your build!



The Value of Daze and Prone

Most controllers do their fair share of dazing and knocking prone, but Druids are arguably the most effecient at it.  Melee enemies subjected to these effects that aren't adjacent to a target will spend their turn standing up and then charging.  A Druid can position him/herself 1 square away in beast form, blocking the general charge path to the rest of the party (or at least the squishiest PCs).  The enemy cannot charge the Druid being only 1 square away, and if he wants to charge past the Druid he will provoke an OA (provided the Druid's position is favorable).  If Grasping Claws is used for the OA, the enemy is unlikely to reach his target.  Polearm builds can shut the charging enemy down just as effectively with Savage Rend (which will knock them prone again).  Note that the feat Staggering Smash conveniently places a dazed enemy 1 square away; otherwise the Druid can shift (either via Wild Shape or a move action). 

Ranged enemies, which can often laugh off the dazing/proning effects of other controllers (stand+shoot), will fear the Druid.  Again, because the Druid has a powerful MBA s/he maintains a threatening presence.  Simply move adjacent to the affected enemy in beast form and they'll provoke an OA if they try to shoot after standing.  Most will likely resort to a melee attack, and fortunately most ranged enemies have weak melee attacks. 


Combos


Chill Wind Attack Enabler

Piece 1:  Chill Wind (Druid at-will, PHB2)
Piece 2:  Ally/allies (preferably with good basic attacks) with Agile Opportunist (Paragon feat, PHB2)
Piece 3 (optional):  Cold resistance for allies from piece 2 (various sources).

Sequence:  Have allies cluster up near an enemy or enemies.  Hit as many targets (both allies and enemies) as you can with Chill Wind.  Slide enemies into position if necessary, then slide allies adjacent to enemy/enemies (preferably into flanking positions).  This will trigger Agile Opportunist, and they'll be able to make MBAs against their foes.



Safe At-Will Immobilization

Piece 1:  Grasping Claws (Druid at-will, PHB2)
Piece 2:  Ruthless Killer (Heroic Druid feat, D382)
Piece 3:  Vicious Advantage (Heroic feat, PHB3)
Piece 4:  Defensive Advantage (Paragon feat, PHB)
Piece 5:  Aversion Staff - may be wielded off-hand (Staff Enchantment, PHB3)
Piece 6:  Marauder's Armor (Armor Enchantment, AV2)
Piece 7 (optional):  Defensive Mobility (Heroic feat, PHB)

Sequence:  Charge and enemy using Grasping Claws as your MBA.  This will slow the enemy, or immobilize them as long as you're adjacent thanks to Ruthless Killer.  Vicious Advantage causes the enemy to provide CA while slowed or immobilized.  Since slowed/immobilized is a status effect, you gain a +2 bonus to defenses vs the target from the Aversion staff.  Since you have CA, Defensive Advantage provides another +2 to AC.  Since you charged, Marauder's Armor provides another bonus to AC.  The net result is that the enemy is locked down, granting CA (be glad you have Claw Gloves!), and given your substantial buff to AC, will be unlikely to effectively retaliate.  Your conditionally high AC will make provoking OAs less of a threat (especially if you have Defensive Mobility), so feel free to just walk 2 squares away next round and charge again (with CA, since the enemy is still slowed).  Especially potent against ranged enemies, who will either have to use a weak melee attack against you or provoke an OA to use a ranged attack.



Savage Rend Action Denial

Piece 1:  Savage Rend (Druid at-will, PHB2)
Piece 2:  Prone Enabler/Out of Turn Attack*
Piece 3 (optional):  Rushing Cleats
Piece 4 (optional):  Fierce Thrasher Form

*List of Options that Fulfill Piece 2: 

Out of Turn Attacks:  Claws of Retribution (Druid Encounter 13, PHB2), Repel Charge (Paragon feat, PHB3), leader-granted benefits (ex. Foolhardy Fighting, Bard Encounter 13, PHB2).

Prone Enablers:  Primal Wolf (Druid Daily 9, PHB2), Polearm Momentum (Heroic Fighter feat, MP2) + Alfsair Spear (Weapon Enchantment, AV2)

Sequence:  This is essentially a set of different combos, all of which function similarly (namely, to use the slide of Savage Rend to deny enemy actions).  I highly recommend picking up at least one of the optional pieces if you utilize the out of turn attacks, as these will give you a slide 2 (or 3, with both), which can be used to deny the actions of enemies with reach.  For out of turn attack options, just set up the conditions for the enemy to provoke attacks from you (example: use the Claws of Retribution power while adjacent to several enemies).  When the enemy attacks, an OA is triggered, allowing you to use Savage Rend to interrupt the triggering attack.  If you slide the target to a space where it cannot reach its target of the triggering attack, then the action is wasted.  In addition to the potent control that these combos provide, out of turn attacks also provide a nice boost to your DPR.

The Prone Enablers both add the "prone" condition to your Savage Rend, so all you need to do is slide the enemy 1 square away from you, and preferably position it such that you are blocking a path to your allies (or nearby allies are also 1 square away from the enemy).  This prevents the enemy from charging you after spending its move action to stand up, and hopefully it won't have a clear path to allies either.  Note that this doesn't work against enemies with reach, however you can combine a prone enabler with Repel Charge to slide an enemy with reach 2 or 3 squares away, thus giving you the opportunity to shut them down through your out of turn attack. 

In general, Druids who plan on abusing Savage Rend + Repel Charge should pick up as many daze and prone powers as possible in order to goad enemies into charging them (or providing them with no other choice than to charge). 



Slow 'em Up and Knock 'em Down

Piece 1:  Grasping Claws (Druid at-will, PHB2)
Piece 2:  World Serpent's Grasp (Heroic Feat, HotFK)
Piece 3 (optional):  Boots of Adept Charging (level 2 feet slot, AV)
Piece 4 (optional)*:  Pouncing Beast Armor (level 4 Armor, PHB2)
Piece 5 (optional)*:  Agile Form/Pouncing Form (Heroic/Paragon feat, PrP)

*Functionally identical

Sequence:  Slow an enemy by hitting them with any attack that slows (Grasping Claws is your default for at-will slowing).  Next round (or this round via an action point) hit them again with Grasping Claws to knock them prone (thanks to World Serpent's Grasp) and keep them slowed (so you can keep spamming this).  If you hit the enemy as part of a charge attack, Boots of Adept Charging allow you to shift away, safe from counterattack (unless the enemy has reach).

Without charging, you can use hit and run tactics against melee enemies without reach as long as you keep hitting if you have either Agile Form or Pouncing Beast Armor (both allow you to shift 1 when you use Wild Shape to enter beast form).  For example, if you start your turn in beast form 1 square away from the enemy you can use your move action to move adjacent, hit them with Grasping Claws (knocking them prone), and then use Wild Shape to shift 1 square away again.  At the start of your next turn you can use Wild Shape to shift 1 square adjacent to the enemy while entering beast form, attack with Grasping Claws (once again knocking them prone), and then use your move action to shift 1 square away again.  If they use a double move to stand up and then move adjacent to you then you'll simply have an extra action to play with, and if they use a double move to stand up and run away then you can easily catch them again by charging.

If the enemy has reach you can still hit and run every other round assuming you're faster than them (your turn will consist of Grasping Claws, Wild Shape + shift, move action full speed).  Obviously against ranged opponents you'll use the slow + prone combination to keep them adjacent to you instead of hitting and running.  This way they can either stand up and then shift away on their turn, stand up and use a ranged attack (provoking an OA from you), or stand up and use a sub-par melee attack.

Keep in mind that this tactic requires you to consistently hit for it to keep working; every time you miss you lose a round of being able to prone, since you'll have to slow the enemy again.  Therefore, I highly recommend anything that increases your accuracy, especially powers, feats, etc that allow you to get CA (since that will allow your Claw Gloves to net you solid DPR at the same time).


Staggering Smash Knockdown

Piece 1: Staggering Smash (Primal feat, PrP)
Piece 2: Battle Awareness (Fighter M/C, MP)
Piece 3: Polearm Momentum (Fighter Feat, MP)
Piece 4: Gauntlets of the Ram (Hands slot item, PHB)
Piece 5: Alfsair Spear
Piece 6:  Choose powers that daze.

Sequence:  Battle Awareness (note that you'll need at last a 13 in Str) qualifies you for Polearm Momentum, which allows you to knock enemies that you push or slide 2+ squares prone.  You will, however, need to use an Alfsair Spear as your implement to utilize this feat.  Staggering Smash allows you to push any enemies that you daze or stun 1 square, and Gauntlets of the Ram increase this to a push 2 (qualifying for Polearm Momentum).  The end result is that enemies hit by such powers are pushed 2 squares away, dazed, and knocked prone.  This is extremely potent, and for melee enemies is likely going to be just as good as a stun.  Druids have plenty of multi-target daze powers, but the most attractive in Heroic tier is likely going to be Predator's Flurry, since it's an encounter power and targets 2 creatures. 


Easy Ranged Combat Advantage

Piece 1: Tome Expertise (feat, HotEC)
Piece 2: Reliable Conjuration (Shaman's Spirit Companion, Air Spirit Primal Attunement, Fey Cantrip feat, Staff of Spectral Hands)
Piece 3 (optional): Summons
Piece 4 (optional): Nature's Growth

Sequence:  The beauty of Tome Expertise is that it neither requires you to be proficient with a Tome, nor to wield one, to use its secondary benefit.  Any enemy adjacent to one of your conjurations or summons grants CA (though it doesn't affect enemies immune to fear).  With multiple conjurations/summons you can generate reliable CA for multi-target attacks (like Magic Stones), AoEs, and of course simply debuff enemies for your allies (Sniper Rogues will love you).  Aside from having access to Air Spirit, Protectors also have an advantage in Nature's Growth, which makes it difficult for enemies to shift away from your conjurations and summons to break the CA. 

Of particular note is the synergy with Grasping Tide, since that power's biggest weakness is accuracy problems due to requiring 2 successful attacks against different defenses (Fort and Reflex), and there being relatively few ways to easily gain CA for area bursts (especially at lower levels).  Well, park a spirit companion or an air spirit right above the origin square and you're set!

Conjuration Choice:  Though it's helpful to have multiple options for tagging spread-out enemies, there are tradeoffs that must be considered.  Obviously the Fey Cantrip Feat and the Staff of Spectral Hands requires a feat and item (respectively) that, aside from enabling this combo, aren't particularly useful otherwise.  Air Spirit has the advantage of requiring no resource investment to acquire (if you're a Protector you get it, if you're not you can't), but it's relatively action-intensive since it requires a minor action to conjure, a move action to move, and a minor action to sustain.  Action economy can be a really big issue here, though you'll fare better if you can a) lock down the enemy (so you don't need to move the air spirit) and b) don't need your minor action for Wild Shape (whether that's because you simply don't use it much, if at all, or because you have Quick Wild Shape in Paragon).  The Shaman's Spirit Companion is quite possibly the best option, since it's easy to use and isn't action-intensive.  If you're a M/C Shaman it requires a standard action to conjure, but that's only an issue if it's destroyed in combat (since you'll assume that it's always conjured out of combat so you start the fight with it out).  It gets to move whenever you take a move action, which makes its placement extremely flexible.  Finally, even though it requires a feat (or hybrid) to obtain it also functions as a roadblock, has a limited-use OA, and opens up Mending Spirit which is always great.  Also if you're a hybrid or feel like power-swapping, it can be the origin for attacks which offers tactical advantages.  Finally, it has a much greater range than Air Spirit or Mage Hand (20 vs. 5), and keep in mind that all of these conjurations can float.
Items

Format:  Items are listed with the name first, and in parentheses the item level(s) and the source are indicated.  Armor, Implements, and Neck Slot item levels are followed by a "+" because they scale appropriately, giving an additional +1 enhancement bonus at regular intervals after the minimum level (up to +6). 

Implements
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Choosing your Implement Type:

Druids can use Staffs and Totems as implements.  Additionally, there is one weapon (the Alfsair Spear) that is useable as an implement for anyone who can use Totems.  Seeing as you'll almost certainly be taking Implement/Focused Expertise at some point, there is a strong incentive to stick with the same type of implement throughout your career.  This doesn't necessarily mean sticking with the same enchantment, but if you've been using an Earthfall Totem and you suddenly decide that you want a Staff of Ruin instead, you'll have to wait until you level to re-train your Expertise feat. 

Spear:  Since there's only one enchantment (Alfsair Spear) available, you give up the diversity of choosing different enchantments with different powers/properties.  Aside from being useable as an implement, the Alfsair Spear itself has a mediocre Daily power and doesn't have any flashy properties.  In a vacuum, it would be rated low.  Despite these disadvantages, the Alfsair Spear does have one important thing going for it, and it's the selling point of the item: it opens up Polearm Momentum (which you'll need a Fighter MC to take) for Druids.  Since Savage Rend is fairly easily upgraded to a slide 2 by mid-Heroic, this gives you an at-will prone attack.  Plus, since the spear is a weapon useable as an implement, the damage bonus from weapon focus applies to even implement attacks cast through it.  Also, it's compatible with the Siberys Shard of the Mage (and other Dragonshards), which are only useable with weapons but apply to implement powers.

Staff:  If you're not making a Polearm Druid, this is probably going to be your best choice.  Like the spear, the Staff implement also counts as a weapon (Quarterstaff), so weapon focus and dragonshards are fair game for boosting your damage.  Staffs also tend to have more/better choices (including the ubiquitous Staff of Ruin) compared with Totems. 

Totem:  A viable choice, but generally inferior to staffs.  If you're really set on one of the specific totem properties and/or powers, feel free to take it.  Also, if you are a Shaman MC/Hybrid, you'll want to use a Totem since it's the only implement that the two classes have in common.  It's not that there aren't any good Totems out there.  Totems just don't double as weapons, and so can't benefit from Weapon Focus and/or Dragonshards.  If you don't have room for a feat like Weapon Focus, or you can't afford a Dragonshard, then you won't lose out with Totems compared to weapons-as-implements.  But the ugly truth, for now, is that not all implements are created equal.  Prior to the existence of Dragonshards, a simple feat called "Implement Focus" would have fixed the disparity (and I still hope that such a feat is created soon).  Until that day, Totems will be chosen only if there's a specific reason to do so, with Staffs being the default choice.

Weapon Enchantments:  According to the March Errata, weapon enchantments are legitimate for weapons-as-implements.  A Frost or Lightning Quarterstaff are good choices if you want to exploit Frostcheese or Mark of Storm, respectively.  A Cunning Quarterstaff gives you a reliable source of save penalties, which could be very useful if you tend to stay away from Summons for your Daily slots.  Chargers might consider a Vanguard Quarterstaff, but generally a Staff of Ruin will be a better choice since a controller shouldn't lock him/herself into charging as much as a Barbarian could.

Superior Implements:

Accurate Staff (PHB3):  Who wouldn't want an extra +1 to-hit?

Accurate Totem (PHB3): 
Who wouldn't want an extra +1 to-hit?

Farseeing Totem (PHB3):  The Deadly property is the selling point, but only if you're locked into Totems for some reason (Shaman MC).  Normally if you want DPR, you use a Staff.

Quickbeam Staff (PHB3):  Forceful is great for a class that has a lot of forced movement, plus it doesn't hurt that Savage Rend is a staple attack for many Druids.  Energized (thunder) might see use for some builds.

Guardian Staff (PHB3):  Energized (forceful) is pretty much useless, but given the lack of static AC boosting options for Druids, the Shielding property is a worthwhile method of boosting your defenses.

Icicle Totem (PHB3):  Thanks to the Empowered Crit property, combine this with a Razor Talon Totem for some crit-fishing fun.  Energized (cold) isn't terrible either, but most Druids that focus on cold will pick up a Frost Quarterstaff for consistent frostcheesing.

Storm Totem (PHB3):  It's unlikely that you'll have enough Thunder powers to make this worthwhile.  If you find yourself with a lot of vs Fort powers, the Unstoppable property will help (but why not go with an Accurate implement?)

Mindwarp Staff (PHB3):  Doesn't really apply much to Druids.

Implement Enchantments:

Alfsair Spear (3+ AV2):  Technically this is a weapon, but it's one that can specifically be used as an implement by anyone that can also use Totems.  By itself it's actually not the best choice, though a Daily power that dazes on a critical hit certainly has its uses.  However, when combined with a Fighter M/C (you'll get the best deal out of Battle Awareness) and Polearm Momentum it becomes very potent.  This forms the basis of the Polearm Druid, and this item is mandatory for them.  The original builds used slide-enhancers to trigger the combo with Savage Rend.  While this remains a potent tactic, push-enhancers are now a better deal since they can be used with Magic Stones to target 3 creatures, as well as any daze power if you have the feat Staggering Smash.

Aversion Staff (2+ PHB3):  This is an excellent controller implement, and it's doubly useful for Druids since they're in melee so often (and have gotten screwed out of various ways to boost AC).  Any power that inflicts a status effect now essentially buffs your defenses as well (at least against attacks from affected enemies).  This makes sitting on top of enemies immobilized from Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer all the more attractive. 

Shepherd's Totem (3+ HotF):  Increase all forced movement distance by 1 square.  If you specialize in forced movement, this is an easy way to get a bonus to it.

Staff of Ruin (3+ AV):  More damage on all of your attacks.  Simple and effective.  You can safely default to this if you don't know what else to do.

Staff of the Serpent (7+ AV):  If you plan on spending most of your time in beast form (or even if you just have the mindset of "when I'm striking, I'll go into beast form; if I'm in humanoid form, I'm controlling"), this plus tier-appropriate Iron Armbands of Power will result in more damage than a Staff of Ruin.  If you'd rather deal damage regardless of what power you're using, the Staff of Ruin would be preferable. 

Summoner's Staff (7+ AV2):  You know, I just now realized that since your summon counts as an ally, they can recieve the THP when an attack misses them.  So you can either buff your summon up, or play leader.  Either option is a win!  The Daily gives your summon the Halfling's Second Chance.  Any Druid with more than 1 summoning power would do well to consider this, and it's likely the default choice for most Primal Summoners and Pack Lords. 

Architect's Staff (5+ AV):  Bigger (and irregularly shaped) walls and zones are nice for Druids that tend to utilize these types of powers a lot.  Remember, you have an at-will that creates a zone (Flame Seed), and this item makes that power a whole lot better.  The Daily is also nifty for responding to changing conditions on the battlefield.  It sure is pricey, though.

Destiny Staff (25+ AV):  Free use of a healing surge when you kill stuff.  Nice!  Extra standard action with your Daily.  Also nice! 

Earthfall Totem (7+ AV2):  Extra damage for using powers that push, slide, or knock prone.  Damage-wise, at high levels this surpasses Staff of the Serpent + Iron Armbands if your main damaging powers do these things (hint: Savage Rend!).  Of course because it's a totem it loses out on being Dragonshard compatible, so given the extra cash spent the Staff of the Serpent will pull ahead again.

Earthroot Staff (3+ AV):  If you tend to immobilize, restrain, and slow a lot, the save penalty will definitely come in handy.  Low level synergies include Savage Frenzy, Faerie Fire, Vine Serpents, and Entangle.

Razor Talon Totem (14+ AV2):  Your crit range on beast form attacks is 19-20.  Most classes can't pull this off so early.

Staff of Corrosion (18+ AV):  This is essentially a Staff of the Serpent but with Acid damage.  Damage Reduction is less common for Acid than Poison, but the cost keeps this staff from being sky blue.

Wrath of Nature Totem (2+ HotF):  D12 crit dice is simple, but effective.  If you use a lot of AoEs you'll increase your chances of critting.  A solid choice for Blood Moon Stalkers.

Defensive Staff (2+ AV):  Give your NADs a boost.  Unfortunately, you'll never gain the AC bonus unless you're a Hybrid Wizard.  Works off-hand, if you're fine with the cheesy dual-staff image.

Dire Totem (10+ AV2):  You can make yourself Large while in beast form 1/day. 

Flameheart Totem (10+ AV2):  If you really want to focus on CA damage, this + Claw Gloves is a nice combo.  Still, it's outdamaged by Staff of the Serpent, which has less situational extra damage.

Staff of the War Mage (3+ PHB):  As a Daily power, you can increase the size of a blast or burst by 1.  Great if you pair it with a nice AoE combat opener like Vine Serpents. 

Stern Mountain Totem (10+ AV2):  From the Aspect of the Ram item set.  Implements that allow you to regain HP as if you've spent a surge aren't all that common, so it's worth consideration if you're low on defense.

Staff of the Traveller (5+ PHB3):  With all the shifting that Druids get, this staff is actually a really good choice despite the Psionic-specific encounter power.  It also works in the off-hand (though personally I find dual-wielding staffs cheesy).  Pretty expensive, though.

Summer Growth Totem (3+ PHB2):  Restrain a target with a critical hit (synergizes with the improved crit range of Entangle), and as a Daily power you can create some difficult terrain.

Totem of the Night (12+ AV2):  Don't use this as your primary implement, but if you're planning on going into the Underdark for a while Darkvision is probably going to come in handy.



Weapons
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Coming Soon!


Armor
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Marauder's Armor (7+ AV2):  You charge a lot.  Getting an AC buff for doing so is an excellent deal, especially since you're most vulnerable to actually being hit with a melee attack right after a charge.  The Daily power is nice, too: spend a healing surge or make a saving throw.  Very powerful, especially considering that it's available starting at level 7!

Pouncing Beast Armor (4+ PHB2):  Shift 1 square when you use Wild Shape to change into beast form.  This essentially gives you a minor/free action shift every turn, if you're willing to shapeshift that much.

Enduring Beast Armor (5+ PHB2):  A solid choice for Druids who want to increase their survivability.  Bonus HP whenever you spend a healing surge in beast form as a property, and a Daily that lets you spend a healing surge as a minor action.  Nice.

Hunting Beast Armor (2+ PHB2):  This armor gives you +2 to your Reflex, and as an encounter power you can shift 2 squares as a move action in beast form.  Great choice for Predators looking for some additional mobility.

Great Cat Armor (19+ AV2):  Very nice indeed!  Increase the distance of your shifts by 1.  Aren't you glad that you're a class that can shift as a minor/free action at-will (via Wild Shape)?  The Daily multisquare shift isn't too shabby, either.

Roc Armor (18+ PHB2):  This armor essentially gives you Sky Talon (level 22 Daily utility).  Being able to attack while flying is nice, and even if you have Sky Talon you might want to keep both so you can pull the trick twice per day.

Predator Armor (3+ PHB2):  +1 bonus to both Fortitude and Will isn't bad, but the Daily power is kind of meh.



Arms
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Bracers of Bold Maneuvering (8, 18 AV):  AC bonus against OAs 1/enc isn't too shabby for such a mobile class.

Bracers of Mighty Striking (2, 12, 22 PHB):  Basically Iron Armbands of Power, but they only work with MBA's.  They're significantly cheaper though, so if most of your striking is done through Savage Rend or Grasping Claws, these might be a better choice.  Doesn't stack with a Staff of Ruin though.

Couters of Second Chances (5, 15, 25 AV):  1/day re-roll.  Even the low-level version is useful for high level characters, providing a very cheap accuracy boost.

Iron Armbands of Power (6, 16, 26 AV):  Item bonus to damage with melee attacks.  A safe choice if you don't use a Staff of Ruin (since both provide item bonuses, they don't stack).

Bracers of Mental Might (6 AV):  Substitute Wis for Str on rolls 1/enc.  Good for Athletics while Wild Shaped.

Counterstrike Guards (4, 14 AV):  Eh, if you're going for damage there are better bracers for you (mighty striking or iron armbands).  Useful for Druids that carry a Staff of Ruin, though.

Frost Charger Bracers (13, AV2):  Charging an enemy causes all enemies adjacent to the target to take a little cold damage (assuming you have a Str mod).  I can see Frostcheese builds possibly finding this useful.


Companion
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Friend's Gift (4, 14, 24 AV):  I've heard arguments about whether reviving the companion grants the extra HP, and there's a good argument for why it works by RAW.  You're spending a healing surge (check), and the companion is regaining HP (double check).  The extra HP is a great cushion for mitigating the risk that the companion will be one-shotted after being revived.

Companion's Defender (5, 15, 25 AV):  A bonus to all defenses while adjacent to you is pretty sweet for either build, though summer Sentinels are likely to get more use out of it (and the bear needs the boost more than the wolf). 

Guardian's Collar (10 AV):  The perception bonus is nifty (animal companions already get a +2 bonus compared to your Perception), and not being surprised if your companion isn't is a nice perk (even if it is situational).

Sigil of Companionship (6, 16, 26 AV):  Not a bad item in theory, and if you're going for damage it's a great way to boost Combined Attack, but it's possibly situational (dependent on your playstyle).  You'll probably want to be adjacent to the bear to benefit from its aura, so this is less useful for summer Sentinels, and the wolf already grants CA through its aura so there's normally no need to flank.  That said, flanking isn't exactly difficult, especially considering the wolf's mobility.  Could be blue for spring Sentinels that play with it in mind.

Transposition Harness (12, 22 AV):  It's a higher level than it probably should be, and the power isn't very strong for a Daily.  Still, it could be a decent "get out of trouble" trick.

Recalling Harness (8, 18, 28 AV):  Not only is this item an oddly high level, but I'm not even sure how useful it would be.  It's unclear whether the companion could perform a Heal check by RAW, but the concept is dubious at best.  Furthermore, if the enemy has been attacking with AoE's then providing it with a target near your own dying body could end up actually killing you.


Feet
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Boots of the Fencing Master (7 AV):  You shift a lot as a Druid, especially if you're a Predator, so a buff to AC and Reflex when you do so is a great boost in survivability.  Plus an encounter power that lets you shift 2 squares as a minor action is just made of win.

Boots of Teleportation (28 AV):  These are pricey, but you get to teleport your speed at-will!  Unsurpassed mobility.

Rushing Cleats (7 AV):  Upgrade your Savage Rend to a slide 2!  These are Gold for Polearm builds in Heroic, but they go back down to sky blue in Paragon when Fierce Thrasher Form becomes available (even so, a slide 3 is also an attractive option so you might keep both).

Sandals of Avandra (25 AV):  Speed bonus, and you can shift half your speed at-will as a move action. 

Zephyr Boots (24 AV):  Congratulations, you have a fly speed equal to your speed!  Become an eagle without feeling stupid!

Boots of Adept Charging (2 AV):  Shift after you charge, and they're dirt cheap!

Boots of Caiphon (24 AV2):  This is from the Points of the Constellation item set.  Reflex bonus, plus you can shift up to your speed as a minor action at-will, if you're willing to take damage equal to 2x the number of squares you moved.

Boots of Speed (22 AV):  Speed bonus and an extra move action 1/day.


Boots of Striding (9 PHB):  +1 speed.

Boots of Swimming (13 AV):  Pick these up if you find yourself near water a lot (island hopping campaigns seem to be popular).  When you wild shape into a dolphin, sea turtle, etc. it's believable!

Dimensional Stride Boots (18 AV):  A reflex buff and an encounter teleport.  Solid.

Dragonborn Greaves (12 AV):  Decent defensive option, with a speed bonus to boot (pun not intended).  Of course you only benefit when you're bloodied.

Phantom Chaussures (18 AV):  You get the Warlock's Shadow Walk, and as a Daily you can become invisible after moving 6 squares.  Fits the skirmisher playstyle of Predators very well.

Airstriders (25 AV):  You can fly!!  With restrictions...

Boots of Eagerness (9 AV):  An encounter power that lets you take another move action as a free action.  In general, Boots of the Fencing Master are a better choice, and they're cheaper as well.  Still, the free action is useful if you're dazed.

Boots of Free Movement (6 AV):  Yeah, you don't like to be slowed, immobilized, or restrained.  If you find it happening a lot, these might help.

Boots of Surging Speed (7 AV2):  Might be useful if you've taken second wind enhancing feats and/or are a Dwarf.

Cat Tabi (8, 18, 28 AV):  I'm only mentioning this because some people might want to be more cat-like in beast form.  More of a fluff choice than an optimization choice.

Oceanstrider Boots (14 AV):
  Speed bonus plus you can walk on water.


Survivor's Boots (16 AV2):  No more provoking OAs while you're bloodied!  Useful for going wherever you want to go unimpeded, or for casting in melee without repercussions!

Boots of Striding and Springing (14 PHB):  I guess you can't complain if you find these as treasure, but there's not much of an improvement compared to the much cheaper Boots of Striding.

Clearing Cleats (26 AV2):  Come on, really?  For an item 2 levels lower you can get a fly speed, and 2 levels later you can get an at-will teleport.  In either case, difficult terrain isn't a problem for you.


Hands
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Claw Gloves (4 AV2):  This item is from the Skin of the Panther Heroic item set.  Deal an extra 1D10 damage with beast form melee attacks when you have CA.  Makes you a Rogue-lite, but the best part is just how cheap they are.  Conveniently, they're a 4th level item, which is exactly when you can start using the Enchant Magic Item ritual.  So enchant a pair as soon as you have the cash.

Antipathy Gloves (10 AV):  You basically have an aura 1 of difficult terrain.  Back artillery into a corner and then lock them down!  Lock enemies into flanks (if they want out, they're provoking an OA)!  This is probably your best alternative to Claw Gloves.

Gauntlets of the Ram (8 PHB):  Add 1 square to your pushes.  With the release of Magic Stones this item became much more valuable.  Note that this also increases the push distance of the feat Staggering Smash.  These are gold for Polearm builds, who can get obscene amounts of control out of them.


Gauntlets of Blood (4, 14, 24 AV2):  Claw Gloves are generally better for damage, but if you don't get CA that much these are a good second choice (bonus against bloodied creatures).

Gloves of Ice (11, 21 AV2):  If you go the Frostcheese route, you might want to pick these up.  However, I don't really recommend it because choosing mostly cold attacks will likely result in a sub-optimal build (unless you're a Hybrid).

Hero's Gauntlets/Great Hero's Gauntlets (17, 27 AV2):  Solid option for any class, accuracy buff when you spend an AP and a ton of THP (1/2 surge value or surge value). 

Greatreach Gauntlets (18 AV):  Give your melee attacks reach!  Why isn't this sky blue, you ask?  Because when your minor action to give yourself reach, you also take a -2 penalty to attack rolls.  Still, Polearm builds might want these so they can pick up Polearm Gamble.

Strikebacks (10 AV):  Once per encounter when you get hit, hit back!

Gloves of Accuracy (16 AV):  Druids who favor casting ranged evocations can find a use for these.

Gloves of Missile Deflection (13 AV):  Protect yourself against enemy artillery.

Luckbender Gloves (6 AV):  Yeah, if you're going for damage, stick with Claw Gloves.



Head
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Horned Helm (6, 16, 26 PHB):  You charge a lot as a Druid, and this item increases the damage you deal on a charge.  Try charging an enemy that you have CA against (charging into a flanking position is fairly easy to do) for some serious damage (because I'm sure that you, like most Druids, have Claw Gloves as well).

Casque of Tactics (4, 14, 24 AV):  An initiative bonus, plus you can swap initiative with a willing ally 1/day.  This could make a huge difference, since controllers have a lot of powers that make excellent combat openers.

Charger's Headdress (12 AV2):  This is from the Aspect of the Ram item set.  You get a +1 bonus to charge attacks.  Strictly speaking, a Horned Helm will result in higher DPR.  However, you get an additional +1 bonus if you have another item from this set (most likely the Fleece of Renewal).  Problem with the fleece is that it's not quite as good as the all-powerful Badge of the Berserker.  Still, a +2 bonus from this set, +1 from Enraged Boar Form, +1 from charging, and +2 if you have CA could give your charge attacks an overall bonus of +6, so don't rule out this combination completely.

Crown of Eyes (16 AV):  You don't grant CA to flanking enemies.  Great for off-tanks!

Essence of the Wisp (21 AV2):  Pull whoever hits you with a ranged attack 2 squares (at-will, imm. reaction).  Plus you get a +2 bonus to Will.

Helm of Able Defense (14 AV2):  From the Panoply of the Sheperds of Ghest set.  Will bonus, and a bonus to all defenses until the first time you're hit.  Solid.

Phrenic Crown (7, 17, 27 AV):  Save penalty when you use vs Will powers.  You don't have as many as some classes do, but Roar of Terror and Baleful Polymorph are notable examples.

Bear Headdress (9 AV2):  Guess what Wild Shape is?  A Primal Polymorph power.  And since it allows you to change from humanoid to beast form or vice versa, you're technically always affected by a polymorh effect as a Druid.  So this item gives you a constant Will bonus.

Cap of Water Breathing (10 AV):  You can breathe underwater, as a property.  Sweet!

Circlet of Second Chances (3, AV):  Re-roll a save 1/day.  It's cheap.

Circlet of Continuity (11 AV2):  Being dazed/stunned sucks.  So a save bonus against it is good.  Once per encounter, you can also sustain a power that normally requires a minor action when you're dazed or stunned.

Eye of Awareness (23 AV):  Bonus to Will and Initiative.  It's pricey though.

Goggles of Night (14 PHB):  Darkvision as a property might be worth it.

Helm of Battle (9, 19, 29 PHB):  Giving you and your allies an initiative bonus is nice, but this is kind of expensive for such a small bonus.

Reading Spectacles (2 AV):  Lol, never noticed this item before.  Eh, it's cheap enough, why not?



Neck
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Badge of the Berserker (2+ AV2):  The movement you make as part of a charge doesn't provoke OAs.  A no-brainer for a class that charges a lot. 

Amulet of Elusive Prey (14+ AV):  Predators may consider this as a defensive option, as it fits the skirmisher playstyle well.  AC/Ref. bonus for moving 4 squares.

Amulet of the Unbroken (29 AV):  1/day, when you're reduced to 0 HP spend as many surges as you want.  If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. 

Amulet of Vigor (9+ AV2):  Daily power that lets you spend a healing surge as a free action, and recover double the HP!  Plus the enhancement bonus increases your surge value.  Still, a Cloak of the Walking Wounded is probably a better choice.

Cloak of Displacement (15+ AV):  AC bonus until you're first hit during an encounter, and a Daily akin to the Halfling's Second Chance.

Cloak of Distortion (4+ AV):  Fairly standard defensive option for ranged classes, and you're half ranged.

Cloak of the Desert (13+ AV2):  Free concealment for an encounter 1/day. 

Cloak of the Walking Wounded (4+ AV):  Most Druids will eventually be able to use their second wind with a less costly action than a Standard, and when that time comes (most likely Epic) this will provide excellent synergy.  Dwarves will want to consider this right from the start.

Fleece of Renewal (13+ AV2):  This item is from the Aspect of the Ram set.  Whenever you charge, you get THP equal to your Con mod.  Obviously a poor choice for Predators.

Talisman of Terror (7+ AV2):  Save penalty that synergizes with Roar of Terror (but not much else that you get). 

Timeless Locket (14+ AV2):  Initiative bonus, check.  Daily power that turns your minor action into a standard action, double check.  What a great item for a controller.

Torc of Power Preservation (15+ AV):  As a Daily power, you get a chance to regain an encounter power that you just used.  Solid.

Amulet of False Life (9+ PHB):  Gain your surge value in THP 1/day when you become bloodied.  There are better defensive options, though.

Amulet of Mental Resolve (2+ AV):  Not bad, grants you a bonus to several different saves.

Amulet of Physical Resolve (2+ AV):  Again, save bonuses for different effects.

Brooch of Vitality (15+ AV):  Increase your HP value (and by extension, your bloodied and surge values).  Not bad, but there are better defensive options.

Frostwolf Pelt (4+ AV2):  The Daily power knocks an enemy that hit you prone as an effect.  End your next turn 1 square away to keep that enemy from attacking (charging) you again.  This item also gives you cold resistance, so if you or a party member like to spam cold zones and/or Wintertouched/Lasting Frost enhanced AoE's, then this will make getting hit by friendly fire less dangerous.

Life Charm (25+ AV):  This makes it so you can't fail death saves (like a Warforged).  Anything that could possibly have a direct influence on preventing death is a decent enough choice.

Lifesaving Brooch (2+ AV2):  This could be, well, life-saving at low levels.  Loses its edge when your leader gains more healing powers, though.

Orc's Eye Amulet (8+ AV2):  For those that like to play leader, this lets you give an ally THP 1/enc when they bloody something.

Seashimmer Cloak (13+ AV2):  Property gives you a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater.  Hello, aquatic Wild Shaping!  Daily makes you insubstantial as an imm. interrupt, so there's a defensive component as well.  Of course it's cheaper in the long run to just pick up a Ring of Aquatic Ability, plus it frees up your neck slot.

Talisman of Repulsion (30 AV):  Daily slide 5 + immobilize imm. reaction.  Not bad for a controller.



Rings
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NOTE:  The various "Grace" rings have powers that work if you haven't made an attack during that turn.  Normally this is pure suck unless you're stunned, in which case it's just situational.  However, depending on your interpretation, your DM might not consider giving a command to a summon "making an attack."  It's super cheesy and I personally wouldn't allow it, but if you can get away with it then more power to you.

Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor (15 AV):  Cheap ring with a great property and Daily power!  +3 damage bonus with close attacks (won't stack with Staff of Ruin, but since Iron Armbands only apply to melee attacks this will be useful).  Plus you can use one of your encounter powers as an imm. reaction when you become bloodied (an expended power if you've reached a milestone) 1/day!  A prime choice for Swarm Druids.

Ring of Many Forms (15 AV2):  This ring is part of the Raiment of the World Serpent Paragon item set.  When you use a polymorph power you gain a +1 bonus to your next attack roll before the end of your turn.  Guess what?  Wild Shape is a polymorph power!  If you find yourself shifting between humanoid and beast forms a lot, you'll also find yourself hitting more often if you have one of these.  At level 15 it's pretty cheap for a ring. 

Greater Ring of Invisibility (23 AV2):  An encounter power invisible until the end of your next turn (as a minor action), and if you've reached a milestone you also get concealment until the end of the encounter.  Sooo, auto-concealment after facing 2 encounters?  Every kill begins with "K"...

Ring of Free Time (29 AV2):  You gain Resist 5 to all damage.  Plus, 1/enc you can take an additional minor action on your turn as a free action, and if you've reached a milestone this power becomes at-will (but useable once per round).  Methinks this synergizes nicely with Primal Summoning Expertise *evil laugh*

Shadow Band (27 AV):  Property: Gain concealment.  Ok, don't mind if I do!  Total concealment for a turn as a Daily, or until the end of the encounter if you've reached a milestone!!!  So this is essentially +2 AC all the time, and +5 AC for an encounter 1/day. 

Dauntless Champion's Ring (30 AV2):  Pricey, but it lets you regain an encounter power (and, if you've reached a milestone, a Daily) if you've expended them all.  The surge value bonus is just icing on the cake. 

Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (14 PHB):  I really like this item for Predators, since they tend to be low on surges.  Purple for Con Druids though, because they generally don't need an extra surge.

Ring of Aquatic Ability (15 AV):  Another way to gain swim speed and underwater breathing (opening up options for your Wild Shape).  Cheaper in the long run than maintaining a Seashimmer Cloak (plus it doesn't waste your neck slot).

Ring of Fey Travel (22 AV):  +1 to speed for those who want obscenely fast Druids, and a minor action teleport as a Daily (which you can do for 2 turns if you've reached a milestone).

Ring of Heroic Health (21 AV2):  Great for off-tank Druids!  The Daily power lets you spend a healing surge or, if you've reached a milestone, regain HP as if you've spent a surge!  Predators may also want to grab one of these since it can let them gain the benefit of spending a surge without actually spending one.

Ring of the Phoenix (27 AV):  The fire resistance is nice and all, but this ring's true allure lies in its ability to let you come back to life in a burst of flame (1/day)! 

Ring of Regeneration (24 PHB):  Increase your healing surge value, and regain a healing surge that you've spent today as a Daily power (+ regen if you've reached a milestone when you use the Daily).

Blink Ring (22 AV): 
Some teleporting as a Daily power.

Ring of Focus (24 AV2):  +1 Will, plus you can sustain using a free (or no) action.  Useful for when you're dazed/stunned.

Ring of Protection (17 PHB):  +1 to saving throws and a Daily power that would be better if the bonus were higher.

Ring of Ramming (18 AV):  If you have a lot of powers that push, this will increase the distance by a square.

Star Opal Ring (26 PHB):  If you're trying to maximize your speed, this will help.  Plus a Daily teleport with a useless explosion (it's Cha based). 




Waist
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Diamond Cincture (10, 20, 30 AV2):  Fortitude bonuse equal to # of diamonds (which is the belt's level divided by 10, so 1, 2, and 3, respectively).  As a minor action at-will, you can regain HP as if you'd spent a healing surge, making that diamond worthless (which means the Fortitude buff goes away).  All diamonds are restored after an extended rest.  So this essentially gives you extra healing surges, which means that it will be favored by Predators.

Baldric of Tactical Positioning (8, 18 AV):  Combine with Claw Gloves for an "oh no, I can't get CA!" failsafe.

Belt of Blood (10, AV):  Essentially a boost to your healing surge value for Con Druids; you're probably going to be bloodied if you use a healing surge anyways.  Predators should check out the Sash of Vitality Ceaseless, which is more expensive but uses Wis instead of Con. 

Belt of Breaching (19 AV2):  This is from the Eldritch Panoply set.  Kill something and spend a healing surge, plus teleport 5 squares. 

Belt of Raging Endurance (9, 19, 29 D380):  An extra healing surge never hurt anyone.  Overkill for Con Druids, but Predators should seriously consider this to make up for their lower Con score (especially if they've chosen Str tertiary instead of Con).  The higher level versions are strictly worse than a Diamond Cincture. 

Healer's Sash (11, 21 AV):  Even after this was hit with the nerf bat, it's still a worthwhile item to pick up.

Sash of Regeneration (28 AV2):  Regen 5 while bloodied makes this an attractive option for off-tank Swarm Druids.

Sash of Vitality Ceaseless (14 AV2):  From the Ayrkashna Armor set.  When you spend a surge while bloodied (when else would you spend a surge?), you gain additional HP equal to your Wis mod.  The Predator's answer to the Belt of Blood! 

Backbone Belt (11 AV):  Nice defense boost for a class that likes using second wind.

Belt of Vigor (2, 12, 22 PHB):  It's cheap and it boosts your healing surge value.

Belt of Vim (8, 18, 28 AV):  Give your Fortitude defense a boost.

Belt of Vitality (23 AV):  Fortitude buff, plus you get to spend a healing surge when you make a death saving throw 1/day.

Shielding Girdle (10 AV):  Gives you the Wizard's "Shield" as a Daily.

Vengeance Sash (23 AV):  Use a standard action attack 1/day when you're reduced to 0 HP (hint: Hungry for the Kill or another power that lets you spend a surge would be an excellent choice). 

Viper Belt (4 AV):  A cheap way to get poison resist.  Solid.


Wondrous Items/Misc.
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Siberys Shard of the Mage (3, 13, 23 EPG):  Extra damage if you use an implement that also counts as a weapon.  Augments your weapon/implement, so it doesn't take up an item slot, either.  If you have the spare cash, definitely pick one up.

Builds
Serene Swarm - A Runepriest hybrid, which is pretty much the only way to make a viable Swarm Druid past Heroic tier.

Silverback Joe
- An updated Polearm build that utilizes both Magic Stones and the Staggering Smash Knockdown combo.  The most high-control Druid build that I know of.

Steppenwolf - This Sun Elf concept optimizes the push distance of Magic Stones as high as possible for exceptional battlefield re-positioning.

Predator Polearm build

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Predator (Polearm), level 30
Elf, Druid, Keeper of the Hidden Flame, Sovereign Beast
Primal Aspect: Primal Predator

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 15, Con 13, Dex 26, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 11, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 44 Fort: 36 Reflex: 46 Will: 43
HP: 170 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 42

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +36, Arcana +21, Athletics +21, Perception +30, Endurance +20

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +22, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +23, Heal +23, History +16, Insight +23, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +22, Streetwise +15, Thievery +22

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Enraged Boar Form
Level 2: Improved Initiative
Level 4: Agile Form (retrained to Polearm Momentum at Level 6)
Level 6: Battle Awareness
Level 8: Versatile Expertise (Spear)
Level 10: Agile Form (retrained to Pouncing Form at Level 11)
Level 11: Repel Charge
Level 12: Fierce Thrasher Form
Level 14: Striking Resurgence (Retrained to Wild Surge at level 21)
Level 16: Vital Form
Level 18: Improved Defenses
Level 20: Ferocious Tiger Form (retrained to Mobile Warrior at Level 22)
Level 21: Redoubled Efforts
Level 22: Primal Resurgence
Level 24: Stampede
Level 26: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 28: Epic Reflexes
Level 30: Swift Predator

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid encounter 1: Thorn Spray
Druid daily 1: Summon Giant Toad
Druid utility 2: Verdant Bounty
Druid encounter 3: Predator's Flurry (retrained to Battering Claws at Level 7)
Druid daily 5: Vine Serpents
Druid utility 6: Camouflage Cloak
Druid encounter 7: Latch On
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Claws of Retribution (replaces Latch On)
Druid daily 15: Wrath of the Storm Chaser (replaces Summon Giant Toad)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Infiltrating Drone (replaces Battering Claws)
Druid daily 19: Summon Crocodile (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid utility 22: Sky Talon
Druid encounter 23: Grasping Earth (replaces Hungry for the Kill)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid encounter 27: Leaping Rake (replaces Thorn Spray)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Wrath of the Storm Chaser)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Light Shield, Alfsair Spear Spear +6, Great Cat Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Belt of Raging Endurance (heroic tier), Horned Helm (paragon tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier), Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Greatwing Tattoo (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

Savage Rend knocks enemies prone each time it hits, which is the main point of this build.  Whenever the Sovereign Beast's utility power is used to change you size to large, enemies are pushed up to 3 squares (initially I thought this would prone people, but without the Implement Keyword the Alfsair Spear + Polearm Momentum doesn't have any effect).  Thanks to Mobile Warrior + Great Cat armor, every time you make an attack (hit or miss) you can shift 2 squares. Once per encounter, Leaping Rake can be used with Sovereign's Charge to hit all enemies within reach of your shift (9 squares at level 30), dazing them and knocking them prone on a hit.  The overall point of the build is to be a solid (though not optimized fully for damage) striker that can slide + prone with Savage Rend at-will.  Since Savage Rend is the main striker/single target control power in this build's arsenal, other power slots are freely utilized for versatile control options (with an emphasis on powers that synergize with Savage Rend and/or Polearm Momentum, such as Claws of Retribution and Wrath of the Storm Chaser).  I'm not 100% sure that Polearm Momentum applies to the effect/zone of WotSC, but since it has the Implement Keyword and it's an attack power, I'm operating under the assumption that it's valid.  Feel free to point out any rules text that suggests otherwise.  Finally, this is my first foray into Epic tier character building, so any advice on the latter third of the build would be especially helpful.

PHB3 has introduced the Paragon feat Repel Charge, which is absolutely perfect for this build.  Enemies can now be slid multiple squares away from you and knocked prone, and being charged by them is no longer a risk (excellent for enemies with reach, which previously could overcome this build's main trick).  Use Savage Rend for the OA triggered by Repel Charge, and slide the enemy out of reach, negating its attack.  Plus that's another opportunity to knock the poor sod prone again!


Guardian Polearm Build with Summoning Focus (provided by Squad)

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
RSDF, level 30
Razorclaw Shifter, Druid, Primal Summoner, Reincarnate Champion
Build: Guardian Druid
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Spear)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Staff)
Epic Vitality: Epic Vitality Wisdom
Past Spirit: Past Spirit (Longtooth Shifter)
Past Spirit: Past Spirit (Githzerai)
Dragon Breath Key Ability: Dragon Breath Constitution
Dragon Breath Damage Type: Dragon Breath Lightning
Firepulse: Firepulse Constitution
Earthshock: Earthshock Constitution
Darkfire: Darkfire Wisdom
Razor Storm Key Ability: Razor Storm Constitution
Background: Wild Hunter (+2 to Athletics)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 24, Dex 17, Int 12, Wis 28, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 11, Con 16, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 45 Fort: 42 Reflex: 41 Will: 43
HP: 181 Surges: 14 Surge Value: 45

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +37, Insight +31, Perception +31, Endurance +27, Athletics +23

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics   +20, Arcana +18, Bluff +17, Diplomacy +17, Dungeoneering +26, Heal  +26,  History +18, Intimidate +17, Religion +18, Stealth +20, Streetwise  +17,  Thievery +18

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Enraged Boar Form
Level 2: Versatile Expertise
Level 4: Wrathful Warrior (retrained to Battle Awareness at Level 21)
Level 6: Deadly Draw
Level 8: Polearm Momentum
Level 10: Strong-Willed Summoning
Level 11: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 22)
Level 12: Fierce Thrasher Form
Level 14: Opportunistic Withdrawal (retrained to Githzerai Mobility at Level 24)
Level 16: Repel Charge
Level 18: Weapon Focus (Spear)
Level 20: Quick Wild Shape
Level 21: Rapid Regeneration
Level 22: Robust Defenses
Level 24: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 26: Epic Reflexes
Level 28: Defensive Advantage
Level 30: Primal Resurgence

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide (Druid)
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid encounter 1: Call Forth the Spirit Pack
Druid daily 1: Summon Giant Toad
Druid utility 2: Grit and Spittle
Druid encounter 3: Battering Claws
Druid daily 5: Summon Pack Wolf
Druid utility 6: Swarm Dispersal
Druid encounter 7: Roar of the Unbowed Beast
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Tidal Surge (replaces Roar of the Unbowed Beast)
Druid daily 15: Summon Great Eagle (replaces Summon Giant Toad)
Druid utility 16: Insightful Riposte
Druid encounter 17: Torrential Storm (replaces Battering Claws)
Druid daily 19: Summon Guardian Briar (replaces Summon Pack Wolf)
Druid utility 22: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 23: Primal Roar (replaces Call Forth the Spirit Pack)
Druid daily 25: Writhing Henge (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid encounter 27: Thunder Claw (replaces Tidal Surge)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Summon Great Eagle)

ITEMS
Ritual   Book, Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Phantom Chaussures (paragon tier),   Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Belt of Vim (paragon tier), Iron  Armbands  of Power (epic tier), Ring of Protection (paragon tier),  Horned Helm  (epic tier), Periapt of Cascading Health +6, Backlash  Tattoo (heroic  tier), Blood Fury Scythe +1, Alfsair Spear Spear +6,  Summoner's Staff  +2, Ring of Action Reversal (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger
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Predator Striker Build

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Predator (Striker), level 30
Elf, Druid, Coiled Serpent, Sovereign Beast
Primal Aspect: Primal Predator

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 14, Con 14, Dex 26, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 12, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 45 Fort: 36 Reflex: 44 Will: 43
HP: 170 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 42

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +28, Perception +28, Athletics +21, Stealth + 29

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +24, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +23, Endurance +15, Heal +23, History +16, Insight +23, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Streetwise +15, Thievery +22

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Cunning Stalker
Level 2: Staff Expertise
Level 4: Implement Focus (Staff)
Level 6: Superior Implement Proficiency (Accurate Staff)
Level 8: Ferocious Tiger Form
Level 10: Agile Form (retrained to Pouncing Form at level 11)
Level 11: Enraged Boar Form
Level 12: Quick Wild Shape
Level 14: Improved Defenses
Level 16: Shadow Initiate
Level 18: Venom Hand Master
Level 20: Hafted Defense
Level 21: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 22: Primal Resurgence
Level 24: Powerful Charge
Level 26: Primal Fury
Level 28: Wild Surge
Level 30: Blood Thirst

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid at-will 1: Fire Hawk
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Claws
Druid encounter 1: Thorn Spray
Druid daily 1: Summon Giant Toad
Druid utility 2: Sudden Bite
Druid encounter 3: Predator's Flurry
Druid daily 5: Summon Stalking Panther
Druid utility 6: Rodent's Agility
Druid encounter 7: Blood-Spray Bite
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Animal Clan
Druid encounter 13: Claws of Retribution (replaces Predator's Flurry)
Druid daily 15: Summon Savage Tiger (replaces Summon Giant Toad)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Hungry for the Kill (replaces Blood-Spray Bite)
Druid daily 19: Summon Guardian Briar (replaces Summon Stalking Panther)
Druid utility 22: Sky Talon
Druid encounter 23: Grasping Earth (replaces Thorn Spray)
Druid daily 25: Primal Tiger (replaces Summon Savage Tiger)
Druid encounter 27: Leaping Rake (replaces Hungry for the Kill)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Summon Crocodile)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Accurate Staff of Ruin +6, Light Shield, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Horned Helm (epic tier), Boots of the Fencing Master (heroic tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Baldric of Tactical Positioning (paragon tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier), Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (paragon tier), Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier), Executioner's Bracers (epic tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

This build is all about damage, pure and simple.  The best way to do this is to get CA and charge as much as possible (preferably simultaneously).  Feats are almost all damage boosters.  Summons are heavily favored because instinctive actions boost DPR.  Most pure-damage encounter powers, however, were ignored in favor of powers that provide a bit more control (you don't want to completely neglect your role).

Alternative PPs for Striker Druids are Blood Moon Stalker, which offers greater nova potential and is a bit more front-loaded than Coiled Serpent (though it sacrifices control and a little mobility), and the Blightbeast, which is only a viable PP for Con based Druids who want to dabble in striking.



Guardian Striker (provided by Squad)

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
LSDF, level 30
Longtooth Shifter, Druid, Blightbeast, World Tree Guardian
Build: Guardian Druid
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Staff)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Totem)
Background: Wild Hunter (+2 to Athletics)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 16, Con 24, Dex 14, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 45 Fort: 42 Reflex: 40 Will: 42
HP: 181 Surges: 14 Surge Value: 45

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +28, Perception +28, Insight +28, Endurance +29, Athletics +27

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics  +17, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +23, Heal +23,  History +16, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +17, Streetwise +15,  Thievery +17

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Enraged Boar Form
Level 2: Superior Implement Training (Accurate staff)
Level 4: Versatile Expertise
Level 6: Vicious Advantage
Level 8: Weapon Focus (Staff)
Level 10: Ruthless Killer
Level 11: Opportunistic Withdrawal (retrained to Long Step at Level 21)
Level 12: Ferocious Tiger Form
Level 14: Gorebrute Charge
Level 16: Powerful Charge
Level 18: Quick Wild Shape
Level 20: Battle Awareness
Level 21: Slashing Storm
Level 22: Rapid Regeneration
Level 24: Robust Defenses
Level 26: Epic Reflexes
Level 28: Second Skin
Level 30: Primal Resurgence

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Claws
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide (Druid)
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid encounter 1: Call Forth the Spirit Pack
Druid daily 1: Lightning Arc
Druid utility 2: Grit and Spittle
Druid encounter 3: Roar of the Unbowed Beast
Druid daily 5: Clinging Drones
Druid utility 6: Swarm Dispersal
Druid encounter 7: Tundra Wind
Druid daily 9: Entangle
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Expose Weakness (replaces Call Forth the Spirit Pack)
Druid daily 15: Primal Boar (replaces Lightning Arc)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Cloud of Sparrows (replaces Tundra Wind)
Druid daily 19: Primal Lion (replaces Clinging Drones)
Druid utility 22: Insightful Riposte
Druid encounter 23: Primal Roar (replaces Roar of the Unbowed Beast)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Entangle)
Druid encounter 27: Thunder Claw (replaces Expose Weakness)
Druid daily 29: Earth Maw (replaces Primal Boar)

ITEMS
Ritual  Book, Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Phantom Chaussures (paragon tier),  Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Belt of Vim  (paragon tier), Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Ring of Protection  (paragon tier), Horned Helm (epic tier), Blood Fury Scythe +1, Backlash  Tattoo (heroic tier), Accurate staff of Corrosion +6, Aversion Accurate  staff +1, Ring of Action Reversal (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======



Swarm Atomic Bomb build

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Swarm (Bomb), level 30
Wilden, Druid, Luminescent Swarm, Demigod
Primal Aspect: Primal Swarm
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Wisdom
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Constitution
Hardy Form: Hardy Form Will

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 14, Con 17, Dex 26, Int 12, Wis 28, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 14, Dex 15, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 40 Fort: 39 Reflex: 46 Will: 48
HP: 185 Surges: 16 Surge Value: 46

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +31, Perception +29, Athletics +21, Arcana +21

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +17, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +24, Endurance +24, Heal +24, History +16, Insight +24, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +24, Streetwise +15, Thievery +17

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Staff Expertise
Level 2: Superior Implement Training (Accurate Staff)
Level 4: Implement Focus (Staff)
Level 6: Coordinated Explosion
Level 8: Improved Defenses
Level 10: Defensive Mobility
Level 11: Bolstered Swarm
Level 12: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 22)
Level 14: Quick Wild Shape
Level 16: Staggering Smash
Level 18: Agile Form
Level 20: Superior Will
Level 21: Primal Resurgence
Level 22: Wild Surge
Level 24: Vital Form
Level 26: Epic Resurgence
Level 28: Epic Fortitude
Level 30: Primal Aspect Form

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid encounter 1: Scattered Form
Druid daily 1: Savage Frenzy
Druid utility 2: Warding Wind
Druid encounter 3: Flowing Swarm
Druid daily 5: Roar of Terror
Druid utility 6: Rodent's Agility
Druid encounter 7: Thorn Castle
Druid daily 9: Flurry of Stingers
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Floating Death (replaces Thorn Castle)
Druid daily 15: Devouring Flies (replaces Flurry of Stingers)
Druid utility 16: Howl of the Wild
Druid encounter 17: Cloud of Sparrows (replaces Scattered Form)
Druid daily 19: Primal Lion (replaces Savage Frenzy)
Druid utility 22: Sky Talon
Druid encounter 23: Primal Roar (replaces Flowing Swarm)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Devouring Flies)
Druid encounter 27: Disorienting Drone (replaces Floating Death)
Druid daily 29: Blinding Blizzard (Primal Lion)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Accurate Staff of Ruin +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Roc Elderhide Armor +6, Shield of Deflection Light Shield (epic tier), Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Antipathy Gloves (heroic tier), Essence of the Wisp (epic tier), Cloak of Displacement +6, Belt of Breaching (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Greater Ring of Invisibility (epic tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

A Swarm Druid that stays as far away from allies as possible, preferring to get behind enemy lines to safely use close bursts/blasts.  Area damage will be maxed, with emphasis on durability second and mobility and forced movement (to get into position or position enemies) when possible.  I generally don't like choosing Demigod as an ED (because I feel it's too good), but Divine Spark does boost area attack and damage, and as far as I know there isn't an ED with any other kind of AoE synergy. 



Guardian Defender build

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Swarm (Defender), level 30
Dwarf, Druid, Primal Summoner?, World Tree Guardian
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 15, Con 26, Dex 13, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 16, Dex 11, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 41 Fort: 46 Reflex: 41 Will: 44
HP: 183 Surges: 17 Surge Value: 53

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +28, Perception +28, Heal +28, Athletics +22, Endurance +30

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +16, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +25, History +16, Insight +23, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +21, Streetwise +15, Thievery +16

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Ruthless Killer
Level 2: Staff Expertise
Level 4: Vicious Advantage
Level 6: Battle Awareness
Level 8: Hafted Defense
Level 10: Stone Step Spirits
Level 11: Vital Form
Level 12: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 21)
Level 14: Improved Defenses
Level 16: Dwarven Durability
Level 18: Superior Will
Level 20: Quick Wild Shape
Level 21: Primal Resurgence
Level 22: Epic Fortitude
Level 24: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 26: Epic Reflexes
Level 28: World Serpent's Grasp
Level 30: Primal Aspect Form

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid at-will 1: Call of the Beast
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Claws
Druid encounter 1: Call Forth the Spirit Pack
Druid daily 1: Summon Pack Wolf
Druid utility 2: Barkskin
Druid encounter 3: Predator's Flurry
Druid daily 5: Clinging Drones
Druid utility 6: Swarm Dispersal
Druid encounter 7: Roar of the Unbowed Beast
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Armor of the Wild
Druid encounter 13: Tidal Surge (replaces Roar of the Unbowed Beast)
Druid daily 15: Summon Crocodile (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Lightning Cascade (replaces Tidal Surge)
Druid daily 19: Summon Guardian Briar (replaces Summon Pack Wolf)
Druid utility 22: Protective Whirlwind
Druid encounter 23: Grasping Earth (replaces Lightning Cascade)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid encounter 27: Disorienting Drone (replaces Predator's Flurry)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Summon Guardian Briar)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Staff of Ruin +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Enduring Beast Elderhide Armor +6, Cloak of the Walking Wounded +6, Recoil Shield Light Shield (heroic tier), Sandals of Avandra (epic tier), Antipathy Gloves (heroic tier), Crown of Eyes (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Belt of Blood (heroic tier), Ring of Heroic Health (epic tier), Greater Ring of Invisibility (epic tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

The ultimate off-tank.  Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer will make this guy extremely sticky.  Mobility-hampering control will be favored over damage, with a very strong emphasis on durability and self-sufficiency.  Dwarf was chosen for the second wind synergy and general toughness, though Longtooth Shifter is also an excellent choice if you want a very durable character.  Because this build will spend the vast majority of time in beast form, I didn't feel too bad about giving it a situational humanoid at-will (Call of the Beast).  This power is mostly used as a last resort if enemies (especially skirmishers) pile onto an ally and you have no other way of getting them off or keeping them stuck to you.



Implement-based Spring Sentinel

Race: Half-Elf (Dilettante - Direct the Strike)
Class: Druid (Sentinel)
Paragon Path: Spiral Wind's Ally
Season: Spring
Level:  11

The Half-Elf's Dilettante improves the leader capabilities of a Sentinel, giving this build an enabling power; Brand of the Sun is a great alternative if you want an early save-granter.  Dwarf is also a superb choice, as your companion regains a surge's worth of HP for free when you second wind, which the Dwarf can do as a minor action.  The Paragon Path is currently the best option for improving the leadership capabilities of a Druid, offering plenty of additional healing.  Spring was chosen because the Wolf's aura provides a good counterbalance to the otherwise highly defensive nature of this build.  Obviously the Bear works well for a purely defensive build, but I prefer a more balanced approach.  All leaders should contribute to offense in some way.


Ability Scores: 

Str-11, Con-21, Dex-14, Int-12, Wis-21, Cha-9

Con and Wis were bumped at each opportunity.  Alternatively, you can switch Dex and Int around which reduces your Initiative, but you can qualify for Blade Initiate (Swordmage M/C) which allows you to use heavy and light blades as an implement.  Doing so frees up your weapon enchantment for something other than an Alfsair Spear.


Hit Points / Bloodied: 93/46  (12 base + 21 Con + 50 level + 10 Toughness)
Healing Surges: 12 (7 base + 5 Con)
Healing Surge Value: 28 (1/4 HP + 4 Swift Recovery +1 Belt of Vigor)

Since you want your animal companion and summons to soak as much damage as possible, you want to make sure that you have enough HP and surges to take that punishment.  More importantly, you want your surge value to be as high as possible.  This is because when you re-summon your companion after it's been reduced to 0 HP, it comes back with HP equal to your healing surge value.  It also gets free HP equal to your healing surge value when you use your second wind, so the higher your surge value the more damage your companion can soak.


Defenses
AC: 27 (10 base +5 level +5 Con +2 enh +3 Hide +1 shield +1 feat)
Fortitude: 24 (10 base +5 level +5 Con +2 class +2 enh)
Reflex: 20 (10 base +5 level +2 Dex +2 enh +1 shield)
Will: 22 (10 base +5 level +5 Wis +2 enh)

Initiative: +7 (+5 level +2 Dex)

Speed: 6

At-Will Powers
Animal Attack
Fire Hawk

Choosing an implement at-will is the way to go for Sentinels in my opinion.  Fire Hawk improves your wolf's stickiness, as enemies will still suffer an attack even if they shift+charge.  It's also a great striker power, and is particularly brutal against artillery.


Encounter Powers
Combined Attack x3
Spiral Gust

Combined Attack can't be traded out, so you might as well make the most of it.  Focus fire on an enemy that a Summon will use its Instinctive Action on for impressive burst damage for a leader.  It's also useful for shuffling around your companion's position (Move action: you move adjacent to an enemy, companion shifts.  Standard Action:  Combined Attack allows companion to move its speed as a free action, and you both attack target). 


Daily Powers
1: Summon Pack Wolf
5:  Life Blood Harvest
9: Summon Crocodile

The Pack Wolf synergizes extremely well with the Wolf companion, resulting in enemies being locked down (via the Pack Wolf's prone and companion's OA) next to a summon and a companion, both of which you want to funnel attacks onto.  The Crocodile works much the same way, only by directly grabbing an enemy and holding it in place (make sure that place is in your Wolf's aura).  Life Blood Harvest gives you a nice emergency heal for when your Healing Words and buffing/damage funneling just won't cut it.

Variant 1:  Destructive Harvest makes a good alternative to Life Blood Harvest if you find that you don't need the healing all that much (especially true if there's another leader in the party).  It's great against solos and elites, as it provides a nice damage buff to allies adjacent to the target.  Works particularly well if you have a lot of melee multi-attackers in your party (Rangers, Monks, and Whirling Barbarians).
Variant 2:  This is another variant on your level 5 selection.  If you want to go with a full summoning theme, and if your party can coordinate to keep enemies from running away, Summon Shadow Ape simultaneously brings a defensive buff, a DPR boost, and damage funneling to the table  The level 1 choice Summon Giant Toad is also solid, as always.

Utility Powers
2: Barkskin
6: Camouflage Cloak
10: Clear the Chaff

Barkskin and Camouflage Cloak both provide excellent defense buffs to allies with a minor action.  They can both help you funnel damage onto a summon or your companion if you use them on melee allies that are taking advantage of the wolf's aura.  Once again, enemies must choose between attacking buffed allies or the annoying wolf that's providing CA.  Clear the Chaff is a phenomenal save granter, which by this level is probably going to get plenty of use.


Misc Powers
R: Direct the Strike
U: Restore Life

Feats
1: Spirit Talker
2: Versatile Expertise (spear weapon, spear implement)
4: Mending Spirit
6: Toughness
8: Swift Recovery
10: Durable (re-trained to Versatile Master at 11)
11: Armor Specialization (Hide)

Other feats that work well for this build are Improved Defenses, Superior Will, Strong Willed Summoning in late Heroic or early Paragon, and Battlewise if you prefer getting your wolf into position before your allies take their first turn (however, since you don't specialize in offensive buffing or de-buffing, you don't really need to go first as much as some of the more aggressive leaders or your controller counterparts).



Items
Main-Hand: Alfsair Spear +2 with Siberys Shard of the Mage +1
Off-Hand: Light Shield
Armor: Lifeblood Armor +2
Neck: Healer's Brooch +2
Arms:  Iron Armbands of Power
Waist:  Belt of Vigor
Companion: Friend's Gift

Lifeblood Armor makes sure that you're buffed with THP at the start of every encounter.  You'll need the Alfsair Spear to use both Weapon and Implement attacks.  You'll definitely want to use implement attacks, as Summons are much better than most of the weapon-based dailies.  The Shard and Iron Armbands keep your damage up to par since Combined Attack pretty much forces you to be an off-striker.  Belt of Vigor boosts your surge value, and the Friend's Gift gives your Animal Companion extra HP when you spend a healing surge to have it re-gain HP.  This definitely works when you second wind, though it's unclear whether it works when you re-summon.  "Doing so causes your animal companion to appear in the nearest unoccupied space, with hit points equal to your healing surge value."  IMO it works fine since the companion goes from 0 HP to surge value HP as a direct result of you spending a minor action and a healing surge, but the wording is a little ambiguous.

Subclass Overviews

Wild Shape Druids


This is the original 4e Druid from the PHB2.  Because I wrote most of this guide when this was the only Druid subclass available (and because it's the more complex subclass to build), most of this guide is written with this subclass in mind.


More to be added later


Sentinels


As an alternative Druid build from the D&D Essentials line, the Sentinel features a simplified design paradigm, but this by no means makes Sentinels a simple class.  Rather, they are straightforward to build (albeit less so than most other Essentials classes), but exhibit a non-traditional mechanical functionality in play.  In this section I'll attempt to highlight some points that are important to keep in mind for any player seeking to build (and optimize) a Sentinel Druid.  Some of these points will be copied and pasted from other sections within the guide, as readers may find it beneficial to have a lot of the Sentinel information in one place, given how different the build is from Wild Shape Druids.

Role Ambiguity

The Sentinel occasionally gets flak for not being able to adequately fill the leader role.  While Sentinels are certainly different from all other leader classes, you can do just fine as the only leader in a party.  The biggest point of contention for many of the Sentinel's critics is Combined Attack.  It's the only encounter attack power that a Sentinel will ever get, and it doesn't offer any blatant leader functionality (though it does allow you to re-position the companion and its aura, that's a far cry from the riders that other leaders get on their encounter powers).  But that's ok, because a Sentinel largely "leads" passively.  The companion's aura is the most obvious passive feature, but the companion's overall mechanics also subtley fill the leader role.  Damage soaked by the companion is damage that the PCs don't take (damage resistance and THP also work like this), and because you can revive the companion as often as you like during a given combat, Sentinels get access to an unprecedented amount of healing surges in any given encounter.  And of course Sentinels get the requisite 2/enc minor action heal as a class feature (in fact, it shares the Cleric's Healing Word). 

In order for the companion to operate most effectively it needs to off-tank, and depending on your DM's playstyle (or the specific monsters in a given encounter), it might require "stickiness" (in other words, hard or soft control which entices enemies to attack the companion, often by discouraging them from moving away).  Thus, the Sentinel almost necessitates emphasizing defender and controller as secondary roles.  Furthermore, it can make a fine off-striker, potentially allowing it to fill in for any of the 4 roles.  The elegance of the Sentinel's design is that it doesn't accomplish this by trying to do everything at once (the classic "Jack of all trades, master of none" trap).  Instead the Sentinel has a couple of unique mechanics that it specializes in, and it just so happens that these mechanics can fit under the definition of multiple roles.  To an extent the mechanic already existed in 4e with summoning powers:  since they cause attacks to be wasted they can be defined as action denial (controlling), since they exist to be attacked and can sometimes funnel damage to themselves they can be defined as mini-defenders, and since they mitigate incoming damage they function as a defensive buff (leading).  The companion is basically an at-will summon.

So Sentinels can function as a sole leader in the party, but they also bleed into the other roles quite a bit.  Clearly there must be a downside, and indeed there is.  Leader functions can be broken down into buffing, debuffing, enabling, healing, and save granting.  Buffing and debuffing are functionally the same, so the fact that Sentinels don't really get any debuffs is irrelevent.  Sentinels are competent at buffing, as the companion's aura provides an always-on buff, their best weapon-based at-will is an excellent defensive buff (THP as an effect!), and most of their dailies are buffs.  Besides the fact, the companion's damage-soaking ability fills the same niche as a defensive buff so you could argue that in terms of functionality, this is their strongest area.  They are also strong healers; if you factor in the ability to revive the companion using your own surges and a minor action, you can consider them excellent at this function as well.  Their ability to provide offensive buffs, however, is extremely limited for the summer Sentinel and spring Sentinels will mostly just do this through their wolf's aura.  Most leaders have a much greater variety of options in this area.  A Sentinel's ability to grant saves is virtually non-existent through most of Heroic tier, though their 10th level utility power Clear the Chaff is top-notch.  Again, most other leaders have many more options for save-granting than a Sentinel, and they often have access to them earlier.  The Sentinel's biggest shortcoming, however, is enabling.  They have virtually no way of granting other PCs attacks at all*.

*Actually, I recently realized that this isn't the case.  A Sentinel can use the Chill Wind Attack Enabling combo in Paragon, even if it does require some resource expenditure on the part of allies.  Still, a PC with a really good MBA like a Slayer or Brutal Rogue should be more than happy to pick up Agile Opportunist and some cold resist if it means that the Druid will consistently grant them free attacks and mobility, all while hitting enemies in the process.


The Animal Companion

The following is a more in-depth discussion of the animal companion's mechanics, copied directly from the "Class Features" section of this guide.  I feel that it's important to understand how the companion works, because in-play it may not seems like the companion is "doing much."  In reality, the companion is a very strong asset to the party, though because of its subtleties it's easy to overlook its contributions.

A Sentinel's animal companion is essentially an at-will summon, and there are a couple of advantages to always having a second creature on the board.  You occupy an additional space, threaten more squares (the companion's attack is a basic attack, so it can make OAs), and if one of you is affected by a debilitating status effect, the other can still act normally.  Additionally, since a monster can only make one OA per turn, if you need to walk past an enemy you can send the companion in first to take the OA, and then safely follow in its footsteps.

The companion also acts as a damage sponge; since its HP is equal to your bloodied value at the start of a fight and it only costs a healing surge to summon back (albeit at half HP), enemy attacks against the companion are less efficient.  Even the fact that the companion gets revived at half HP has its advantages, because the more often that the companion drops, the more enemy damage that gets wasted.  For example, if the companion had 2 HP left and an attack hit it for 12 damage, then the companion soaked 10 damage just by "dying."  The companion also reverts to full HP after a rest, and if you use your second wind the companion also regains HP equal to your surge value.  So companions soak damage:  1) by having 2x surge value at the start of a fight, 2) when enemies overshoot their remaining HP to drop them, and 3) when an injured companion recharges its HP after any rest without any resource expenditure.

Another important function that the companion will serve is providing access to healing surges during combat.  Normally this can only be done by using second wind or through a specific power, such as Healing Word.  However, you can keep reviving the companion using a minor action as long as you have the surges to continue doing so.  Each time the companion drops, that's one additional healing surge that the party was able to use in combat, which is great if PC healing is limited and/or if an encounter is particularly difficult.  Because companions are easily healed and soak damage, you should make sure that you have a few tricks for making sure that enemies attack your companion rather than a PC.


  • Wolf:  The wolf is an aggressive animal companion, with an aura that causes enemies to grant CA.  This means that the wolf is very accurate since it will always have CA, though it's slightly less damaging than the bear.  While CA has the potential to be redundant (the aura does nothing if an ally already has CA), the effective +2 to-hit is also more powerful than the bear's defense buff, plus the aura's benefit can be utilized by ranged allies.  The wolf is fast (speed 8), with good AC and balanced defenses.

  • Bear:  The bear is the more defensive choice, and makes a great off-tank.  It's aura grants allies a +2 to defenses, which combined with the bear's innately low AC will make it a very attractive target.  It deals more damage than the wolf (though it won't have permanent CA, so it won't be as accurate), has an average speed of 6, and compensates for a low AC and Reflex with a high Fortitude and Will.




Combined Attack

You can find this discussion under Heroic Tier Powers (part 1).  It's easy to dismiss Combined Attack because it looks bland on paper, but in play I've found it to be surprisingly versatile.

Sentinels are stuck with this power, so you might as well make the most of it.  Though it lacks leader riders, it's actually a pretty versatile power.  Its uses include:


  1. Striking:  This is its most obvious function.  Flank an enemy (for Summer Sentinels) or attack an enemy in your companion's aura (for Spring Sentinels), and then have the companion attack that enemy as well.  Focus firing is simple, and effective.

  2. Minion-clearing:  Use the initial attack to hit a minion, and then have the animal companion go after a different minion.  You'll want to shift the companion when you take your move action if it's already adjacent to an enemy, since the movement granted by Combined Attack's effect does provoke OAs.  Taking out 2 minions with a standard action isn't too shabby, and they can be far apart thanks to the companion being able to move.

  3. Killing Blows:  Like minion-clearing, finishing off enemies is a situation where spread (as opposed to focused) damage is beneficial.  It's a waste of a striker's standard action to finish off enemies that are nearly dead, and defenders and controllers may be too busy elsewhere.  The goal is to waste as little damage as possible, and 2 attacks that deal moderate damage each is a great way to ensure that happens.  Kill an enemy with the initial attack, and then deal some damage to another enemy with your companion (preferably one that's also near death, so you can get 2 kills).  Another variant of this strategy is that if you miss a nearly-dead enemy with your initial attack, you have another shot at killing it via the companion.

  4. Re-positioning:  If the companion's aura is needed somewhere else (or, for Summer Sentinels, if the bear needs to switch between flanking and protecting via the aura), Combined Attack is a good way to make that happen.  You'll want to shift the companion when you take your move action if  it's already adjacent to an enemy, since the movement granted by  Combined Attack's effect does provoke OAs.  You can also take advantages of situations that require spread damage at the same time (kill a minion or nearly dead enemy with your attack before re-positioning the companion).

  5. Front Line Breaching:  In many encounters, you want to get a melee presence to the ranged enemies and/or lurkers/skirmishers as soon as possible.  Between getting to move when you take your move action and then getting to move again via Combined Attack, animal companions can cover a lot of distance quickly.  The wolf, with its high speed and aura that benefits ranged allies, is much more likely to employ this tactic.  You may end up diverting forces from the enemy frontline to deal with the companion, or at the very least the squishies will try to take out the companion instead of raining ranged attacks upon the PCs.  It's dangerous work running behind enemy lines with no support, but given that a) companions act as damage sponges and b) it's trivially easy to resurrect them in combat, your party can reap the rewards of this tactic while greatly mitigating the risks.



Choosing an At-Will (and an implement)

The second paragraph is an excerpt from the section on Choosing At-Wills from this guide.  Before we get to at-wills though, one crucial point to keep in mind is that if you decide to pick up an implement power (this includes Dailies as well), you'll need to make sure that you actually have an implement.  This is no problem for summer Sentinels, since the quintessential "weapliment" (weapon useable as implement) is the staff, which their class feature supports.  Spring Sentinels, however, have a hurdle to overcome.  None of the weapons that their class feature buffs can intrinsically be used as an implement.  While you can use one of these weapons and a separate totem or staff in your off hand, it will cost you some AC/Reflex because you won't be able to use a shield.  You have two options that are more optimal: 1) use a spear and limit yourself to the Alfsair Spear (AV2) enchantment, or 2) multiclass Swordmage so that you can use heavy and light blades as implements (though see the following section on multiclassing for other considerations).  The additional advantage of using a spear, scimitar, sickle, or dagger as your weapon and implement is that the class feature that gives you a +1 bonus to attacks with these weapons applies to attack rolls, and NOT just weapon attacks.  Therefore, the bonus is applied to your implement attacks as well (it's like getting Superior Implement Training for free).  One final thing to keep in mind is that while summer Sentinels can pick up Staff Expertise and be happy, spring Sentinels will be limited to Versatile Expertise (from PHB3), which scales more slowly and doesn't provide a secondary benefit, but that's still preferable to taking two Expertise feats (one for the weapon, one for the implement).

The Sentinel build introduces melee weapon powers.  Most Wild Shape Druids will find little use for these powers, but Sentinels have a very important decision to make.  Because their companion's animal attack counts as one of their at-wills, they only get to choose 1 at-will that they can use.  If they want a ranged at-will option they can choose an implement power, but that means that they don't have a good melee attack that they can personally use.  A Sentinel that chooses a weapon attack has no reliable ranged option, however.  Obviously Human is an attractive option for those who want the best of both worlds.  For other races, I personally recommend picking up Fire Hawk or Grasping Tide.  Once you start getting multiple uses of Combined Attack you'll already have a great melee power, and at lower levels the animal companion simply does much better damage than you will personally; by and large you won't miss a weapon at-will if you don't take one.  Grasping Tide and Fire Hawk can also serve to make your companion sticky (which is ideal for an off-tank, especially one that's such a good damage sponge).  Fire Hawk is better for single target damage at range, and makes an especially potent anti-artillery power, whereas Grasping Tide is good for AoE damage and offers superb at-will control.  That said, Tending Strike is also a good power, especially for builds that seek to be a more pure leader or spring Sentinels that don't want to spend resources on an implement (i.e. lock themselves into using an Alfsair Spear or picking up Swordmage M/C). 


Multiclassing

While it's certainly not mandatory, it's highly advisable that all Sentinels consider a multiclass option.  Specifically, there are two different classes that most Sentinels can benefit from multiclassing into.  The first option was mentioned in the previous section on choosing at-wills and implements.  Spring Sentinels who want to use a scimitar, sickle, or dagger as an implement should consider Blade Initiate, the Swordmage M/C feat (note that you'll need at least a 13 in Int to qualify).  Once per day, this feat provides an encounter-long +2 buff to AC (stow your light shield as a minor action to get the +3 bonus for having a free hand), but more importantly it lets you use heavy and light blades as implements.  Avoid training Arcana at character creation, because this feat also provides training in that skill.

The other major M/C option is Shaman.  This is a very powerful option, and is one of the main reasons why I prefer using an Alfsair Spear as a spring Sentinel (I also think that a feat is a more valuable resource than a weapon enchantment).  The entry feat is Spirit Talker, which grants you the Call Spirit Companion power, albeit useable as a standard action.  Keep the SC conjured at all times so that it's already out when you enter combat, because a standard action is pretty inefficient from an action economy standpoint.  You also get to choose an OA from one of the Shaman builds, which the SC can use once per encounter.  Personally, I prefer World Speaker's Command (from Primal Power) because on a hit it ends the triggering move action, which provides great lockdown potential (hint: it can make your animal companion sticky).  You also get Speak with Spirits as a Daily power, and training in Nature which is wasted since you already have that. 

Like the animal companion, the spirit companion can move (at your speed) whenever you take a move action.  So basically each move action you take allows you to move 3 "creatures" (the SC is actually a conjuration, so remember that it doesn't provoke OAs and can't be targeted by AoE's).  The SC is also a very nice damage sponge; only ranged and melee attacks can target it, and an attack has to deal 10+1/2 your level damage to "kill" the SC, otherwise it has no effect.  You only take 5+1/2 your level damage if the SC dies, which means that that it soaks at least 5 damage, obviously more if the attack overshoots the threshold.  Between the animal companion and the spirit companion, you can have a lot of fun keeping multiple melee enemies at bay, blocking chokepoints, etc.  Overall this is a great way to enhance your control.

As if the entry feat wasn't already good enough, it also provides access to Mending Spirit.  This feat grants you a 1/encounter use of the Shaman's Healing Spirit class feature.  Yep, that's an additional minor action heal once per encounter.  This is a strong M/C option for any class, but it's particularly good for Sentinels since Spirit Talker enhances what they already do well.  An often-overlooked advantage to having Healing Spirit is that Healing Word (an any other leader's version of it) can be used twice per encounter, but only once per round.  You cannot spend two minor actions to use Healing Word twice on the same turn.  You can, however, use Healing Word and Healing Spirit on the same turn, giving you the potential for some nova healing.


Protectors


This subclass was released in Heroes of the Feywild.  Overall it's pretty similar to the Wild Shape Druid, especially if you've picked up Beastwalker Circle to gain Wild Shape.  Protectors with Wild Shape will have to be more careful about at-will choice, since they only get 2 as opposed to 3.  Many won't even bother picking it up, instead focusing completely on ranged and close implement attacks.  This build is defined by Nature's Growth, which allows Protectors to create difficult terrain in every encounter, and Summon Natural Ally, which is an interesting variant on summoning.

Summon Natural Ally Overview

The individual summons available through Summon Natural Ally are rated at the beginning of each tier's power ratings.  However, I feel it might be valuable to see all of the ratings, split by Druid Circle, in one place for quick reference and comparison (copied from the original ratings).  I'd like to draw attention to 2 things here.  The first is that the balance between Predators and Guardians is pretty good.  Predators start off with an advantage, but the Guardian's Cobra is good enough that this isn't game-breaking.  The two builds stay remarkably even when they pick up their level 15 (Paragon) options, and then in Epic (level 29) Guardians shoot ahead.  The second point that I'd like to emphasize is that by and large, these summons are highly rated when compared with regular Druid daily attacks.  Low level Guardians may pine for Summon Giant Toad and Summon Crocodile, but those wouldn't noticeably improve a Predator's performance, and the Guardian's Cobra compares favorably to the other low level summons.  Writhing Henge is better than any of the SNA options, but to be fair it's also arguably overpowered.  The other big Epic power, Summon Elder Pack Wolf, is comparable enough to the Roc or Dire Lion that most Protectors won't miss it.  However, keep in mind that Beastwalker Circle allows a Protector to pick up Writhing Henge, and Guardians can use the feat to upgrade to the Toad or Croc if they desire. 

GUARDIANS:
Giant Cobra (Heroic):
  This will probably be the go-to choice for most low level Guardians.  It deals the highest damage of the level 1 creatures and its attack debuff is universally useful.  Unfortunately, it's a little easy to ignore so be sure to park it next to debilitated foes or team up with a defender, which can both protect it and keep enemies close by.

Desert Hawk (Heroic):  The Hawk deals moderate damage, can shift before it attacks, and can slide foes.  Unfortunately, due to the wording of the instinctive effect it will only attack adjacent enemies and won't shift on its own.  That's a major blow to its effectiveness.  It does, however, have a fly speed which can be extremely useful.  Fly over the head of an enemy that's adjacent to one of your melee allies (preferably a defender) and the hawk can get an instinctive attack in even if the enemy shifts (unless it then charges away).  Situationally useful for chasing after flying enemies (and the hawk is medium, so small PCs can use it as a mount).


Bulette (Paragon):
  Who hasn't wanted one of these terrors at their disposal?  It deals impressive damage, and slows on a hit.  What really makes this a great option is its encounter power.  It won't use it instinctively, but a close burst 1 that deals sick damage and prones is worth the price of a standard action (that would be a decent blaster power even without the proning).  Its only flaw is that while slowing is nice and can easily deny an enemy of its standard action if the party is sufficiently far away (especially considering Nature's Growth), it won't be that hard for most enemies to escape from it.  This guy's really close to being sky blue though.

Venomous Scorpion (Paragon):
  It deals the lowest damage of the Paragon summons, but immobilizing + ongoing 10 (save ends both) is phenomenal!  Enemies will be very hard pressed to escape from this guy, and it will therefore be really easy for it to use its instinctive attack every round.  You really can't go wrong by bringing this guy out, and the only reason not to is if you want to use the Bulette's encounter power.

Blue Dragon Wyrmling (Epic):  By this point all of the summons are dealing the same amount of damage, and unfortunately the dragon's attack has the weakest effect (a simple mark without a punishment).  Fortunately, it happens to have a very nice "breath weapon" encounter power that deals good damage and dazes (and remember that you'll likely have Primal Summoning Expertise by this point, so you can fire that sucker off with a minor action). 

Desert Roc (Epic):  What a wonderful summon!  You'll probably be actively commanding this guy, but since you have Primal Summoning Expertise (you did remember to pick that up, right?) it won't be too big a drain on your actions.  The Roc can grab up to 2 enemies of size Large or smaller, and then fly up into the air with them (fly speed is 8).  That's good incentive for them not to try and break the grab, right?  They probably don't want to kill the Roc either.  Feel free to drop them whenever you want, though. 


PREDATORS:
Grizzly Bear (Heroic):  This guy deals moderate damage and can grab the target.  If it has a creature grabbed it instinctively sustains instead of attacking which is a bummer, but it's also the best choice for locking down an isolated enemy.  Because it won't be attacking as often it's the more situational of the Predators early summons.

Pack Wolf (Heroic):  This is very similar to the Summon Pack Wolf daily power, except you don't need combat advantage to knock the enemy prone and it deals a little more damage.  It still deals less damage than the other SNA options for this level, though.  Thanks to the mobility denial that prone provides  it should be attacking instinctively pretty much every round, especially if you position it tactically.  Utilize Nature's Growth to keep enemies from closing in on your allies.  It's probably most efficient parked right next to a defender, however, since the defender will protect it and it will make the defender more sticky.  Synergizes well with Fire Hawk, Grasping Tide and Grasping Claws.


Dire Bear (Paragon):  The bear deals excellent damage, and is most valuable because it brings something to the table that most of the other summons don't.  Instead of being sticky, the bear actively pushes enemies away.  Because of this it probably won't get to attack instinctively as much as the other summons, but don't write it off just yet.  In some encounters it's just really helpful to have a good forced movement options (fighting by a cliff, pit, campfire, etc.), and even when it won't attack instinctively it may be worth the occasional standard action to command it to attack.  It also makes a really good bodyguard; park it next to a squishy ally that enemies just keep coming toward.  It will get to use its instinctive attack more often (more damage for you!), or enemies will avoid the squishy ally in which case you just did your job.  If the bear hits someone they're knocked back, allowing the bear's "charge" a chance to escape. 

Hunting Tiger (Paragon):  Not much to say, really.  It's almost exactly the same as the Pack Wolf, except it does quite a bit more damage, it can shift before attacking, and it's Large.  Even if it will only attack adjacent enemies instinctively, the shift might help it gain CA.  Prone still remains a good mobility-denial tool.  Finally, while it's unlikely to be very useful in most combats, it gets a monstrous stealth bonus if it tries to hide after moving. 

Dire Lion (Epic):  If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?  The Dire Lion's standard action is almost the same as the Hunting Tiger's before him, which is in turn very similar to the Pack Wolf's.  Actually, it's a little worse off than the Tiger's because it doesn't include a shift.  I thought about demoting this guy to blue, but his encounter power makes up for a lack of improvement in his main attack.  A friendly close burst 2 (originating from a Large creature, no less) that deals superb damage and debuffs attacks is very nice (arguably the best encounter power of all the summons), especially considering you'll be making it as a minor action via Primal Summoning Expertise. 

Raptor Behemoth (Epic):  No control attached to its attack, but it does get to shift if the target ends its turn within 2 squares of it and then it deals auto-damage.  At first glance this looks like a decent way to improve your chances of it making an instinctive attack, but by this point you're commanding your summons through Primal Summoning Expertise pretty much every round.

Hybrids

Is it worth it?


At first I avoided making a Hybrids section for this guide for a couple of reasons.  The first is that hybrids add a huge amount of complexity and options and to try to cover all of that would be a gargantuan undertaking.  The second is that Wild Shape Druids simply don't hybrid very well, and thanks to their versatility in covering different roles they generally don't need to.  Now that the hybrid rules have been released for Sentinels I feel it's time to address the issue.  Unlike Wild Shape Druids, Sentinels hybrid quite well.  They get full use of the animal companion as normal, they get to pick an at-will from each parent class which gives them one more than a regular Sentinel would have, and (best of all) they're not forced into Combined Attack!  The idea of building a Sentinel that's not on such strict rails is appealing to many people, and making a hybrid is how you do that. 


Sentinel (Leader Focus):  The best choices for your other class if you want to run a more dedicated leader are the Cleric and the Shaman.  Since Wis and Con are both almost equally important to a Sentinel, it's most efficient to stick with classes that share these stats (and these are the leaders that fit that).  When choosing encounter powers you'll likely be relying heavily on your other class if you're trying to make a more "pure" leader.  In general the Cleric will offer more healing and defensive buffing, whereas the Shaman has great enabling powers and a balanced repertoire of other leader functions.  Both are also pretty strong secondary controllers, so you'll have plenty of options if you want to emphasize that secondary role.


Sentinel (Other Roles):  Potential options for non-leaders are Invokers, Battleminds, and possibly Warlocks (some builds get by without Int anyways).  Invokers are particularly attractive because you can cherry pick control powers from either parent class, and they also have some neat leader powers (in addition to powerful debuffing options that could count toward both roles).  An Invoker|Sentinel can make a great primary controller and the animal companion adds a unique "at-will summon" twist.  You could even M/C Shaman and pick up Mending Spirit to have 2 per encounter heals.  You can really fine-tune how much you want to emphasize the leader and controller roles, and you'll often be blurring the 2.  Finally, Invokers tend to have weak at-wills (unless you like blasting) and strong encounter powers, whereas Druids have several really good at-wills but a dearth of good encounter powers (particularly non-beast form ones).  A hybrid can spam a good Druid at-will like Grasping Tide or Fire Hawk while having access to the Invoker's superb encounter powers. 


Serene Swarm:  As mentioned in the "Builds" section, a hybrid Swarm Druid | Serene Runepriest is an extremely durable build, and this "Serene Swarm" option is easily the best way to make a viable Swarm Druid above mid-Heroic. 


Beast Form Tank (Battle Cleric's Lore):  Though it's a bit "cheesy" at best since it violates the general rule limiting hybrids to getting only the best armor that both classes are proficient in, off-tanks might also consider combining a Wild Shape Druid with the Cleric and picking up Battle Cleric's Lore for the free AC bump.  You'll have to water down your repertoire with some Cleric powers, but fortunately the class offers some top-notch control options so this might not even be a downside.  You also get an encounter heal out of the deal.  Ultimately, this is a very attractive method for optimizers to "patch" the beast form AC "problem," though personally I expect an errata that prevents hybrids from benefitting from Battle Cleric's Lore in the future.  Until then, have fun (if your DM is cool with the build).



Hybrid Builds


Sentinel|Cleric


Level 11 Half-Elf Sentinel|Cleric
Spiral Wind's Ally or Miracle Worker

Starting Abilities (post racial): 10, 18, 12, 8, 18, 12
Final Abilities: 11, 21, 13, 9, 21, 13
Druid of Spring (Hybrid) – Wolf and +2 to heal checks
Healing Word (hybrid)
Animal Companion – same as regular Sentinel
Combined Attack (hybrid) – you can take it if you want (or additional uses)
Healer's Lore (replace with Battle Cleric's Lore)
Healing Word (Hybrid)
Dilettante – Direct the Strike


Starting HP = 12 + Con; 5 HP/level
7+Con mod surges
+1 F and +1 W


83 HP / 41 bloodied / 24 surge value; 12 surges


AC 29 = 10+5(lvl)+9(scale)+3(enh)+2(BCL)


F 26= 10+5+5(Con)+2(feat)+3(enh)+1(Class)


R 21= 10+5+1(Dex)+2(feat)+3(enh)


W 26= 10+5+5(Wis)+2(feat)+3(enh)+1(Class)



Feats
1: Hybrid Talent – Channel Divinity (Healer's Mercy) OR Cleric Armor Proficiency
2: Superior Implement Training (Accurate Staff)
4: Staff Expertise
6: Melee Training (WIS)
8: Battlewise
10: Swift Recovery
11: Improved Defenses

At-Will
Fire Hawk
Brand of the Sun or Blessing of the Wild
Animal Attack

Encounter
1 – Cause Fear (or Sunburst)
3 – Combined Attack (or Tundra Wind)
7 – Searing Light (or Fey Beguiling)
PP – Spiral Gust or Reversal of Fortunes
R - Direct the Strike

Daily
1 – Summon Pack Wolf
5 – Inspire Fervor
9 – Summon Crocodile (or Sunbeam)

Utility
2 – Shield of Faith
6 – Camouflage Cloak
10 – Clear the Chaff

Note: This build is intentionally gear-independent.

Explanation: Battle Cleric's Lore currently works with hybrids, but it's notable that it breaks one of the design goals that hybrids get the worse of the 2 parent class's armor proficiencies.  It is RAW though, but if your DM isn't cool with it (or in case it gets errata'd later on) you'll need to take Cleric Armor Proficiency for your Hybrid Talent instead of Channel Divinity.  As it stands Hybrid Talent is used to get Healer's Mercy; being weakened won't hurt this build much because you can always command your wolf to attack while weakened, or use Direct the Strike.  Fire Hawk was chosen to increase the wolf's stickiness and to destroy artillery; for your Cleric at-will Brand of the Sun provides convenient at-will save granting, whereas Blessing of the Wild is a nice mobility enabler.  Cause Fear and Inspire Fervor both synergize extremely well with the animal companion since the amount of granted OAs/MBAs is dependent on how many allies are in range; your animal companion counts as an ally, so you're essentially getting a "free" attack in when you use these powers as a hybrid Sentinel.  Sunburst provides a more defensive alternative to Cause Fear, and it also synergizes well with the animal companion since it throws THP around to all allies in its range.  As a hybrid Sentinel, these types of powers are stronger than normal so it's beneficial to look out for them as you're choosing powers. 


Sentinel|Shaman

Coming Soon
Final Reservation.

Didn't reserve enough posts in my last guide, and I'm not making that mistake again!

Feel free to post away now.
Just a quick notice while looking at heroic feats, Focused expertise should be renamed Versatile Expertise.  Also, might want to include the HotFL expertises as well (staff expertise is awesome).
Two small notes about races...
Devas are probably the one race that can well make a Con Druid and still go first reliably, thanks to their racial feat that gives that changes their Init from Dex to Wis+2. Their necrotic resistance and their defense bonus against bloodied targets it quite effective in actual play.
A Minotaur's retribution attack triggers off dropping to zero, not off being hit - hence you won't be able to negate unless you have a way to heal with that attack.
No Thri-kreen love?  Extra attack, perfect stats for predator and I'm sure one can pull off charging shenanigans with the always-running jump checks.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Just a quick notice while looking at heroic feats, Focused expertise should be renamed Versatile Expertise.  Also, might want to include the HotFL expertises as well (staff expertise is awesome).


Thanks for catching that, I guess I never updated that feat when PHB3 came out.  And the HotFL/HotFK feats will be up shortly.

Two small notes about races...
Devas are probably the one race that can well make a Con Druid and still go first reliably, thanks to their racial feat that gives that changes their Init from Dex to Wis+2. Their necrotic resistance and their defense bonus against bloodied targets it quite effective in actual play.
A Minotaur's retribution attack triggers off dropping to zero, not off being hit - hence you won't be able to negate unless you have a way to heal with that attack.


Doh, that makes a whole lot more sense!  That retribution attack seemed too strong.

EDIT:  Can you provide a source for that Deva feat?  I don't have a DnDi subscription and not all of my books are with me either.

EDIT2: 

No Thri-kreen love?  Extra attack, perfect stats for predator and I'm sure one can pull off charging shenanigans with the always-running jump checks.


Just added them (as well as the Mul).
Your section on stats mentions Hide Armor Expertise as still using Con for AC.

Also, you might want a bit of discussion about when it's better as a Swarm to strictly pump Con and when it's better to have an 18 or so Con and then pump Dex.

Looking forward to a comprehensive druid resource! Nice stuff.
Sentinel not Sentinal
@ Deva:
It's called Battle Intuition, changes Init from Dex to Wis and gives you another +2 feat bonus, which by experience is enough to go first (or before the mobs) more often than not. Add some other tricks and things become real bonkers - my Invoker had tons of fun.
It's from Dragon #374, which also holds some other useful Deva feats.
If I recall correctly, that Deva feat is redundant with a new feat found in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, which provides identical effects with no racial requirement.
Sadly they're not in the Compendium yet.
So which would that be, and what does it do ?
Sentinel not Sentinal


Lol, thanks for catching that, command + F was my friend on that one!

@ Deva:
It's called Battle Intuition, changes Init from Dex to Wis and gives you another +2 feat bonus, which by experience is enough to go first (or before the mobs) more often than not. Add some other tricks and things become real bonkers - my Invoker had tons of fun.
It's from Dragon #374, which also holds some other useful Deva feats.


Thanks, that is quite nice.

If I recall correctly, that Deva feat is redundant with a new feat found in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, which provides identical effects with no racial requirement.


See above; it's Battlewise with an additional +2 bonus.

EDIT:

Sadly they're not in the Compendium yet.
So which would that be, and what does it do ?


See above; I've also updated the feats section with the important ones from HotFK.
@ Druid build rating:
I think you should incorporate not only the benefit itself, but also the attached power riders and access to certain feats. I'd argue that Predators are in fact just as good as Swarms (if not even a bit better).

@ Role ratings:
I think you really should discriminate better here:
1) Druid vs Sentinel (obvious)
2) primary vs secondary Role (Because really, while you can become somewhat solid at say striking, you just won't match any real and at least half-dedicated Striker.)
3) baseline vs potential (You're not top tier at two and still good at the two Roles - at the same time. You can build off competence, but that naturally comes at a cost.)
@ Druid build rating:
I think you should incorporate not only the benefit itself, but also the attached power riders and access to certain feats. I'd argue that Predators are in fact just as good as Swarms (if not even a bit better).

@ Role ratings:
I think you really should discriminate better here:
1) Druid vs Sentinel (obvious)
2) primary vs secondary Role (Because really, while you can become somewhat solid at say striking, you just won't match any real and at least half-dedicated Striker.)
3) baseline vs potential (You're not top tier at two and still good at the two Roles - at the same time. You can build off competence, but that naturally comes at a cost.)


Yeah, I was just rating the class features in a vacuum.  Taking feats and riders into consideration, Predators come out on top with Swarms being at a disadvantage (Sentinel's are difficult to compare since they basically play like a different class). 

I'll make the roles section a little more clear.  Overall ratings for role potential within the Druid class, and then I'll specify which builds can achieve that potential in the description. 
Also, I'm sorry, but Sentinels are awful leaders, probably the worst in the game. No granting attacks, very few saves, close to the bare minimum healing possible to even be considered a Leader, and to top it all off, no actual leading encounter powers. They hardly even buff allies--their weapon enhancement dailies and beast auras are pretty much the only thing they have going for them. Even then, they don't stack up to dedicated artificers or runepriests.

They might be able to do some controlling with non-sentinel powers, and they certainly have good damage for a non-striker. But there's no way I'd let one be the only leader in a party--they're fifth members at best. I wouldn't rate the build higher than black at actually being a leader.
Also, I'm sorry, but Sentinels are awful leaders, probably the worst in the game. No granting attacks, very few saves, close to the bare minimum healing possible to even be considered a Leader, and to top it all off, no actual leading encounter powers. They hardly even buff allies--their weapon enhancement dailies and beast auras are pretty much the only thing they have going for them. Even then, they don't stack up to dedicated artificers or runepriests.

They might be able to do some controlling with non-sentinel powers, and they certainly have good damage for a non-striker. But there's no way I'd let one be the only leader in a party--they're fifth members at best. I wouldn't rate the build higher than black at actually being a leader.


I wouldn't go so far as to say that Sentinels are awful leaders.  Granted, they're not designed to fit as neatly into the role as other leaders, so despite shortcomings from a pure leader standpoint I think the class is still fine.  But yes, being locked into a pure damage encounter power hurts. 

Sentinel's also suck at granting attacks, unless said attacks come from their animal companion.  No arguments there.  But in terms of granting saves and healing, Sentinel's are pretty much fine.

Powers that grant saves:

  1. Winter's Withering (Daily 9) - doesn't grant saves, but provides bonus to them

  2. Clear the Chaff (Encounter 10) - and this one's really good, too.

  3. Goodberry (Daily 10)

  4. Primal Restoration (Daily 16)

  5. Rejuvenating Harvest (Daily 25)


Powers that heal:

  1. Fires of Life (Daily 1)

  2. Seed of Healing (Daily 2)

  3. Life Blood Harvest (Daily 5)

  4. Reap Vitality (Daily 9)

  5. Goodberry (Daily 10)

  6. Bountiful Vigor (Daily 10) - I'm counting regen as healing here

  7. Devouring Flies (Daily 15)

  8. Howl of the Wild (Daily 16)

  9. Primal Restoration (Daily 16)

  10. Touch of Renewal (Daily 22)

  11. Tree of Life (Daily 22)

And that's not counting powers that grant THP or provide buffs (resist all, damage buffs, etc), some of which are quite good.  Overall that's not a bad list considering they're only working with Dailies and Utilities.  They certainly have more than enough healing than I would need for a character, though granted I tend not to build healing-centric leaders.  I am a big fan of saving throws, and the Sentinal admittedly lacks save-granting powers early on, but Clear the Chaff and Goodberry are both great options at level 10, and that's when status effects are starting to become more prevalent anyways.  And I know this is "cheating" a little bit, but Knack for Success bears mentioning since Half Elves make such awesome Druids now.  It's also easy to underestimate the animal companion's effect on the party's HP pool.

It seems like the Sentinel's trademarks as a leader are weapon-enhancers (Heat Metal, Shillelagh, etc.), day-long buffs (Bear's Strength, Serpent's Cunning, etc) and aura-creators (Vexing Overgrowth, etc., plus the fact that the companion has a permanent aura).  Not only do they do more of these things than other leaders, but the day-long buffs are unique to them.  I'd be perfectly comfortable with a Sentinel as the only leader in a party, though admittedly I do wish that they had an at-will damage buff.  I also tend to like versatile characters, as opposed to those that are extremely specialized.

I have to admit I'm a skeptic on the Sentinel being able to carry the load as a Leader. The loss of a full suite of Leader Encounter powers to a double attack that scales as poorly as a companion attack does is pretty rough, and the fact of the matter is that a lot the Dailies that HotFK brings aren't very impressive to me from the Leader standpoint (or even overall), and while the Daily buffs being on all day is sweet, they don't stack with a bunch of other things. The companion's buffs are sweet, but its HP and defenses... not so much.

All these things combine to make me think that the Druid's Dailies are going to have to pick up the slack, and even then that would make me think of them as an off-Leader, more of a 5th man than anything else. That said, there's something to be said for a class who dedicates himself to fill that niche - I think Monks are sweet, and they're a 5th man sort of character too. But all in all, if I'm in a party whose only Leader is a Sentinel, until proven otherwise I'm rolling up a Warlord. With that in mind, I'd drop the Leader rating to at least Blue (I have them at Black, myself).
The feat section needs a few changes post HoFL:

Weapon Focus only provide a bonus with weapon powers now, but HoFL includes Implement Focus which does the same for implement powers. (Sentinels will probably want to stick with WF.)

Great Fortitude, Iron Will and Lightning Reflexes are all now Heroic tier feats, so should be moved. They are also outclassed by their Superior versions, so the only reason to take these feats is if you don't meet the prerequisite of the Superior version.

Similarly, Paragon and Robust Defenses are replaced by the Heroic Improved Defenses. They should both be marked as red, with a note to take Improved Defenses instead.
Endurance:  I'm not sure if this is unique to my play experience, but Endurance seems to be the skill that comes up the least often in-game.  That said, it's nice to have when it does come up, and as a Druid you might want to consider training your body to withstand extreme environments.  This will also be useful if you ever happen to contract a disease and don't have the resources (i.e. ritual) to remove it, and 2 of the 3 builds use Con as a secondary stat.

If you're playing in heroic this is true. But once you hit Paragon and up you're frequently traveling to inhospitable planes that require you to roll Endurance checks or lose a healing surge or suffer some other random penalty. In fact in some adventures, it's one of the key skills (like in Revenge of the Giants, Arcana and Endurance are top tier skills). If you're in such a plane for awhile, the lack of Endurance can really wear on you.

This shouldn't affect ratings (or maybe it should), but it has some other rather important flavorful effects in friendly play (like sexual encounters).

In my experience the worst skill by far in all tiers of play is Streetwise.

I'd say Endurance is blue in the later half of the game and Heal is black in the later half (Heal almost never comes once everyone is stacked with abilities, I make my leaders without heal, that's how useless it is).
I have to admit I'm a skeptic on the Sentinel being able to carry the load as a Leader. The loss of a full suite of Leader Encounter powers to a double attack that scales as poorly as a companion attack does is pretty rough, and the fact of the matter is that a lot the Dailies that HotFK brings aren't very impressive to me from the Leader standpoint (or even overall), and while the Daily buffs being on all day is sweet, they don't stack with a bunch of other things. The companion's buffs are sweet, but its HP and defenses... not so much.

All these things combine to make me think that the Druid's Dailies are going to have to pick up the slack, and even then that would make me think of them as an off-Leader, more of a 5th man than anything else. That said, there's something to be said for a class who dedicates himself to fill that niche - I think Monks are sweet, and they're a 5th man sort of character too. But all in all, if I'm in a party whose only Leader is a Sentinel, until proven otherwise I'm rolling up a Warlord. With that in mind, I'd drop the Leader rating to at least Blue (I have them at Black, myself).



Combined Attack is certainly the greatest blow to the Sentinel's ability to lead well, as encounter powers are arguably a PCs most important type of attack power.  For most leaders, this is the best way for them to do their job.  Sentinel's are a bit different, though.  While Combined Attack isn't directly contributing to the Sentinel's ability to lead, the companion's aura is always on so allies have access to fairly constant buffing even during rounds where you use Combined Attack.  Plus since the companion's damage soaking ability is passive, a Sentinel can be "stealth leading" despite the encounter power being just damage.  I'm not sure I agree that the companions HP and defenses aren't great; the defenses of the Wolf seem pretty much average, and that the Bear's AC is low is part of what makes it such an attractive target.  And while the HP cap of the companion is "only" the Sentinel's bloodied value, it's trivially easy to re-summon (which costs only a surge), the companion regains HP when you second wind, and its HP automatically goes back to full during a short rest.  Overall, it seems to me like companions manage HP very efficiently.

There are admittedly some weak levels for leader Dailies in HotFK (9, 19, and to an extent 29), but there's a lot of good stuff too.  Besides, some of the controller Dailies can arguably fill the leader niche as well.  For example, level 9 may be weak for HotFK leader Dailies, but Sunbeam provides a nice AoE de-buff (blind), and considering that's like giving allies a +5 bonus to defenses any leader would do well to choose that power. 

Obviously there are plenty of utility powers with great leader effects; this was the case before HotFK, too. 

I guess I can stand behind a blue rating, since the class is obviously designed to dip into other roles.  And I still think they'd be fine as the only leader in a party.  IMO the 2/enc heal is the most critical thing that a leader brings to the table.  Obviously they do much more than that, but that power is unique to the role and as long as the party has access to such action-efficient healing they should be able to make it through most encounters.  Anything after that just comes down to personal preference.  Yeah, a more dedicated leader can consistently make the party more efficient, but a party with just a Sentinel will by no means be struggling.  Obviously party composition will come into play, but that's the case with any leader. 

The feat section needs a few changes post HoFL:

Weapon Focus only provide a bonus with weapon powers now, but HoFL includes Implement Focus which does the same for implement powers. (Sentinels will probably want to stick with WF.)

Great Fortitude, Iron Will and Lightning Reflexes are all now Heroic tier feats, so should be moved. They are also outclassed by their Superior versions, so the only reason to take these feats is if you don't meet the prerequisite of the Superior version.

Similarly, Paragon and Robust Defenses are replaced by the Heroic Improved Defenses. They should both be marked as red, with a note to take Improved Defenses instead.


Thanks, I've made the changes.

I think you should note that Staff Fighting is actually pretty good for Summer Sentinels. You know, since Wild Shape is never a concern for them.

And just a random thought, but the more I'm pondering the Sentinel at-will dilemma, the more I'm thinking that Human is hands down the best race for this build.  You can nab a good ranged implement attack (Fire Hawk, Grasping Tide, or Chill Wind most likely) because otherwise your options for range are almost non-existent (the Warpriest has this same problem, what's up with these Essentials leaders and piss-poor range out of the box?).  You can use your bonus at-will to grab one of the melee weapon at-wills, because otherwise you're stuck with just the companion's attack as an at-will melee option.  Plus, you can use your bonus feat to pick up Melee Training so you have a decent OA that you can make personally. 



Ok, so now that I'm actually in the process of building a Sentinel for playtesting, I'm not so sure about Human's superiority.  For example, in comparing Human with Half-Elf (my initial choice for this character):

Human advantages:


  • +1 Reflex and Will (Human Defense Bonus, Fort is a wash because of Half-Elf Con bonus)

  • +1 feat

  • +1 at-will, most likely Fire Hawk for ranged option

  • +1 Skill



Half-Elf advantages:


  • +1 AC

  • +1 to all Con riders (including the at-will Tending Strike)

  • +1 to Wolf's damage

  • +2 HP (which means +1 bloodied value, which is also companion's HP)

  • 1 more healing surge

  • Knack for Success

  • +1 Endurance, Con ability checks


So the Half-Elf looks a lot better on paper, though to be fair it's difficult to assess how valuable a good ranged option will be.  Mobility de-buffs will likely be less of an issue for the Sentinel than the Warpriest (who is in a similar boat), since the companion may still be able to move and attack even if you're immobilized, etc.  The real issue is with flying (or any otherwise inaccessible) enemies, but it's hard to tell whether preparing for a situational encounter really outweighs the Half-Elf's benefits (which are mostly derived from having a second stat bump, conveniently the secondary stat). 

I'd also like to point out that after putting hard numbers on the character sheet, I'm not terribly worried about the companion's scaling attack and defense values.  Assuming Half-Elf with a Wolf companion, AC and Fort are only 1 behind the Sentinel, Reflex is 2 better, and Will is even.  Sounds pretty balanced to me (note that this is at level 6 with a light shield, and no NAD or AC boosting feats were chosen).  Attack bonus is 2 behind the Sentinel (assuming Spring's +1, a +2 weapon, and Versatile Expertise), though the aura brings it up to a decent baseline (yeah, you and your allies will still surpass the Wolf while attacking enemies in the aura, but that's what leaders are supposed to do, right?).  Damage would be 1D8+8, compared with Tending Strike's 1D8+9 (this includes Iron Armbands, the +2 weapon, and Weapon Focus) and the Sentinel's MBA of 1D8+7 (stupid Melee Training nerf).  Taking the rarity system into account, Iron Armbands might not necessarily be a given, making the companion's damage look even more favorable.

Now, I fully admit that this is anecdotal and level 6 doesn't exactly give the best picture of how things will scale in the long run, but it's a solid start.  Attack bonus and defenses should remain solid since they go up by 1 for each level.  Damage will suffer from a lack of extra crit dice more as you level, so there's one weakness.  The at-will damage mod will scale nicely by 2 for every 2 stat bumps, so +8 over the course of your career from stat bumps alone, with an additional +2 at Paragon and +4 at Epic (non-cumulative) for the Wolf, and +3 at Paragon and +5 at Epic for the Bear.  Like any non-Psionic at-will, the damage dice increases at Epic as well.  Keeping in line with my sample Half-Elf Spring Sentinel, the Wolf's damage will scale by a total of +12.  A normal PC's damage mod gains +4 through stat bumps and +6 through enhancement bonuses, so ignoring any damage-buffing feats and items, the Wolf comes out ahead.  Now obviously PCs will have feats and items that increase their damage so they'll inevitably come out ahead of the Wolf, but isn't that as it should be?  Otherwise you'd have people complaining that Sentinels are broken just like CoDzilla (though not quite to that degree), because the companion alone can overshadow a PC.  IMO the developers have struck a good balance with the Sentinel, making a companion whose offensive contributions are meaningful (unlike the BM Ranger's) without potentially overshadowing PCs. 
sentinal druids ignore the wild shape rules correct?
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alien270 - Glad to see you're updating the guide!

I'm going to once again argue in favor of a higher rating for the Guardian build.  I think you underestimate the value of their class feature, which is similar to another paragon level feat that let's you consolidate your toughness with an existing stat - Zuoken's Centering (the one that lets Githzerai Monks use Wis instead of Con for HP/Surges).  I think it's a much better deal than the other equivalent paragon-level feat of Fleet-footed for the Predator.

And while it's true that Guardians don't have great feat support, their high Con does open up nice options like Second Skin and Rapid Regeneration.  It's no small thing for a melee oriented controller to have such nice defensive options.  A Con focus also opens up the Blightbeast PP and some nice ED options like World Tree Guardian. 
I think on the whole that the guardian build has the potential to better support a Grasping Claws lockdown strategy than Predators. 

After making those Guardian builds of the Polearm and Striker builds a while back, I find it hard to contemplate going back to Predator builds.  I don't think Predators are worse than you make them out to be though - just that Guardians are being underrated.
sentinal druids ignore the wild shape rules correct?



Correct, they get the Animal Companion instead of Wild Shape.

alien270 - Glad to see you're updating the guide!

I'm going to once again argue in favor of a higher rating for the Guardian build.  I think you underestimate the value of their class feature, which is similar to another paragon level feat that let's you consolidate your toughness with an existing stat - Zuoken's Centering (the one that lets Githzerai Monks use Wis instead of Con for HP/Surges).  I think it's a much better deal than the other equivalent paragon-level feat of Fleet-footed for the Predator.

And while it's true that Guardians don't have great feat support, their high Con does open up nice options like Second Skin and Rapid Regeneration.  It's no small thing for a melee oriented controller to have such nice defensive options.  A Con focus also opens up the Blightbeast PP and some nice ED options like World Tree Guardian. 
I think on the whole that the guardian build has the potential to better support a Grasping Claws lockdown strategy than Predators. 

After making those Guardian builds of the Polearm and Striker builds a while back, I find it hard to contemplate going back to Predator builds.  I don't think Predators are worse than you make them out to be though - just that Guardians are being underrated.


You know, I was just fooling around with a (low level) Guardian build today and thinking about whether I hadn't underrated the class feature.  Another point that you didn't mention is that Guardians will have plenty of surges to spend on summons.

I guess it really started to hit me when I expanded the class feature ratings to include other build considerations, and gave Swarms a purple for AC scaling.  Sure, the pseudo-DR of the Swarm Druid is a great class feature, but you really can't beat a reliably-scaling AC with a Con build.  I think I'm convinced enough to upgrade Primal Guardian to blue.
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